This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe, Watershed Assistant at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District.

The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors is no place for the faint of heart. The hostile environment of the wilderness pushes the endurance of the human spirit to the very brink of its limitations. It is here that we discover the quiet strength hidden deep within ourselves.

Chris Randall, our Project Supervisor, and I have entered into the wild to complete a mission for the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD). We are conducting a topographic survey of a project site. We will need to canoe through the murky waters of a secluded river system in order to create a detailed map of the landscape.

The water is eerily still as we paddle through the creek. My survivalist instincts are heightened and my senses are keen to danger. Dense brush overhangs the creek. I should have brought my machete. We haven’t eaten since we left and I’m feeling famished. I’d give anything for a home cooked meal right about now.

Splash! My peripheral vision catches a flying white object crashing into the water. “What was that?” I wonder out loud. Just then, a terrible moan roars from a thicket of bush near our canoe. I’ve heard stories of terrible creatures lurking in forests. The bushes begin to rustle and I am overcome with fear. We are just about to be devoured alive when our canoe emerges into a spacious clearing in the heart of the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Club. An exasperated golfer groans in dismay and comes out from the bushes after having lost his ball in the creek. “Thank goodness, Chris!” I said, “I thought there was a bear.”

Potential Water Retention at Steinbach Fly-In

The Manning Canal flows through the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Club and AD Penner Park. It continues through the Mennonite Heritage Village before crossing Highway #12 and eventually flowing into the Seine River Diversion.

Increasing growth and development in Steinbach and the surrounding area means that there is more pressure on local drains during the spring runoff and high water events. The SRRCD is collaborating with the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Club, the City of Steinbach, local landowners, and the Province of Manitoba to find cost-effective ways of alleviating flooding by storing water along the Manning Canal. We are using GPS surveying equipment to map the surface features of the Manning Canal flowing through the AD Penner Park and the Steinbach Fly-In Golf Club.

SRRCD Purchases New Surveying Equipment

The data we produce with our surveying equipment is used to develop models that help us determine the best way to implement a water storage project. We can prioritize potential sites that will have the best cost-benefit. We can also target specific goals, such as reducing nutrient inputs, controlling point and non-point sources of pollution, and mitigating flooding and damage to infrastructure in low-lying areas.

The SRRCD recently purchased new GPS surveying equipment. Our new equipment gives us the capacity to collect all of our own survey information without having to hire outside contractors. It also means that we can work towards implementing the best projects that have the most benefit for our watershed district. We have already put the equipment to good use and we are looking forward to a productive year as we get out to more surveying sites.

The Call of the Wild

There’s something deeply satisfying about getting lost in the beauty of nature to discover who you really are. The deadly edge of the wilderness sharpens my character as I rely solely on my wits to survive. I run my hand over the coarse whiskers on my cheek. I think my beard has grown at least an inch since we left this morning. Some things just can’t be tamed.

Chris and I direct our canoe along the meandering course of the creek deep into the interior of AD Penner Park. We paddle by a curious looking plant. I flip through the pages of my field guide and inform Chris that the rare yellow marsh orchid is an endangered species. “Its petals contain a toxin known to be fatal to humans,” I cautioned.

Chris rolls his eyes at me. “It’s a dandelion,” he says.

We finish packing up the canoe shortly before lunch and get ready to head back to the office. Adventure awaits us for another day when we will return to the wild to explore the furthest reaches of our watershed on official conservation district business.

SRRCD Summer Field Staff Going Door-to-Door in the RM of Piney

This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe, Watershed Assistant at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Welcoming our Summer Field Staff

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is pleased to welcome Brooke Thomas, Hayley Wojcikowski, and Tristen Probizansky as our new summer field staff.

Brooke recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with two degrees, including a Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. She loves spending time outdoors at her family’s cabin near Lake Winnipeg and being actively involved in different sports. She has taught gymnastics for many years and I am hoping that she can teach me how to do a double-backflip this summer. Brooke will be working from our main office in La Broquerie where she will be assisting our team throughout the district.

Hayley is a student at the University of Manitoba. She is about to start her fourth year majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. Hayley is a Pioneer Clubs leader and she has mentored a group of young girls for the past two years. Hayley teaches the girls important life skills by doing fun activities with them. The girls are really blessed to have someone like Hayley in their lives. I am really thankful that Hayley is around because my doctors say that I need constant adult supervision. Hayley will be working in the Roseau River Watershed this summer where she will be developing a water well inventory in the RM of Piney.

Brooke and Hayley make a wonderful team as their unique personalities and talents complement each other like perogies and cream gravy. They have been hard at work for nearly a month and their passion for watershed stewardship is reflected in the work that they do. Tristen will be starting with us later on in June and we are looking forward to him joining our team.

Tristen will be graduating this year from the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute. He will be attending the University of Manitoba this fall where he is enrolled in the Faculty of Agriculture. Tristen is very familiar with the local area of the Roseau River Watershed as he has spent much time living and working on a family-run farm. Tristen will be working with Hayley this summer in the Roseau River Watershed.

We are pleased to welcome Brooke, Hayley, and Tristen as our new summer field staff. You might even get a chance to meet them around our district as they implement our various summer programming.

Water Well Inventory

Our summer field staff will be going door-to-door this summer offering Roseau River Watershed residents in the RM of Piney an opportunity to test their private well water for free. Any water that ends up in the Roseau River is part of the Roseau River Watershed area. All residents have to do is answer a few quick questions about their well. Our staff will collect a well water sample from a kitchen or outdoor tap and send it to Winnipeg on behalf of residents. Horizon Laboratory in Winnipeg will test the sample for the presence of coliform and E. coli bacteria. The lab will then contact residents directly with their results. This program is completely voluntary and free for residents in the RM of Piney.

We look forward to seeing you around this summer.

If you have any questions about our water well inventory program, you can contact our office in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at