Harold Janzen and his family operate Marsh River Farms and grain and poultry operations found along the Marsh River in Ste. Elizabeth. For the past 12 years, Harold has also been a mainstay member of the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District. Harold has served on both the Marsh River and Roseau River sub-districts being chair of the Marsh River Sub District since 2016. Harold is always looking for ways in which the SRRWD can help solve and improve local water quality and management issues within his sub-districts.
The summer of 2019 saw the creation of an Alternative Land Use Service Program (ALUS) within the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District (SRRWD). The start of the SRRWD-ALUS programs was a realization of a vision that started years before by Harold. This vision started with seeing areas of opportunity on his own farm to provide ecological goods and services. At this time, no programs were offered within the Watershed district that provided compensation for producers to take low-lying and flood-prone land out of production and into ecologically beneficial uses such as perennial grasses and water retention. When the opportunity came to work with ALUS Canada to develop an alternative land use program in the watershed district Harold took the lead in making sure it became a reality.
Harold was the first one to step up when the watershed district was looking for participants to take part in the program. Not only did he jump at the chance to be the first to be a part of the new ALUS program he was able to recruit two other neighbors to join him. Harold even took time out during harvest to sit down with SRRWD staff and his neighbors Art Enns and Jeff Friesen. He was able to take some time during a really busy season and explain the program with them explaining how the program could be both a benefit to the community and them as producers. Due to his hard work, the new program was off to a flying start having 20 acres of flood plain converted from cropland to perennial grasses in that first year.
Harold’s drive to see the program succeed continued as he has given SRRWD staff a lengthy list of potential sites and producers along the Marsh River that would benefit from the ALUS program. Due to these connections, SRRWD has converted a further 60 acres of flood plain back into grass along the Marsh River this year. The commitment found along the Marsh River sets a solid foundation for the SRRWD-ALUS program to bridge partnerships with producers across the watershed district to expand ecological goods and services in southeast Manitoba.
Harold’s vision continues to look into the future with help in the formation of an SRRWD Buffer Strip Task Force this summer to implement perennial grass buffer strips and side water inlets to increase water quality and reduce erosion in waterways. Harold has become a driver of the SRRWD-ALUS program and for this reason, the SRRWD is pleased to award Harold Janzen our 2020 District Award.