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Program wins Blue Skies award

Mountain View County’s ALUS program has been recognized by the Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ) for environmental stewardship.
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Lorelee Grattidge, sustainable agriculture specialist with Mountain View County, and Brian Rodger, chairman of the county’s agricultural service board, hold a plaque present by PAMZ.

Mountain View County’s ALUS program has been recognized by the Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ) for environmental stewardship.

The ALUS – alternative land use services – program in the county, as well as in Red Deer County and Lacombe County, is the 2018 recipient of the Blue Skies Award for efforts to improve air quality across the region.

A Canada-wide program, ALUS provides an opportunity for agricultural producers to receive funding to enhance natural areas on their land.

PAMZ is a non-profit group established in 1997 to identify air quality concerns in Central Alberta and to implement management strategies to address those concerns.

The Blue Skies Award recognizes individuals and organizations that undertake exemplary steps to improve air quality.

The ALUS program in the county has allowed producers to undertake such things as tree and hedge planting on their properties.

PAMZ executive director Kevin Warren said the ALUS projects in the district represent an important environmental effort.

Lorelee Grattidge, sustainable agriculture specialist with Mountain View County, has been involved with the  program.

“We’ve had about eight producers each year who are taking on projects,” Gratttidge told members at last week’s policies and priorities committee meeting. “I think we’ve had just over 20 producers who have participated and this year I think we will be crossing over the 1,000 acres that have been protected through ALUS projects.

“It’s been steady. It’s been at a level where we’ve been able to keep up with it.”

Mountain View County deputy reeve Angela Aalbers, who chaired the policies and priorities committee meeting, congratulated staff and producers on the award.

“It’s great to see you are recognized for the hard work that you’ve been putting into this,” said Aalbers. “It’s never easy to get a new program up. I remember four years ago sitting at the ag service board listening to  the presentation on ALUS and hoping that it was going to take off.

“It seems that it is really going in the right direction and thank you for your hard work and perseverance.”
Following the committee meeting, Aalbers said the award is great news for everyone involved in ALUS.

“It’s extremely exciting,” she said. "It highlights the impact and the focus that this council is putting on the environment and how we are treating the environment and how administration is actually moving forward in that direction.

“I think the program elevates and demonstrates how our producers are really environmentally conscious and how dedicated this county is towards moving in that direction.”

The county hopes to see even more producers take part in the ALUS program going forward, she said.