Agrologist Martin Sills (left), and Ministry of Agriculture staff Tara Haynes and Jacquie Tourand are collecting inventory about agricultural land use in the Cariboo and travelling in a blue Ford F150. They began on July 16 and will continue until Aug. 30. (Government communications and public engagement photo)

Agriculture water, land-use survey crew on task in Cariboo region

Travelling in a blue Ford F150, the team of three are doing inventory

A team is touring the Cariboo region collecting information on crops, irrigation, livestock and land-use.

Ministry of Agriculture agrologist Nicole Pressey said the public may notice a blue F150 pickup truck with BC Ministry of Agriculture signs on both door panels in the neighbourhood.

“There are two Ministry of Agriculture staff from the Abbotsford office, as well as a contractor, Martin Sills. Martin is a professional agrologist and used to do this job,” Pressey told the Tribune.

They will be in Quesnel, Electoral Area B, Wells, Electoral Area C from now until July 26 and in Electoral Areas E (South Lakeside, Dog Creek), F (150 Mile, Horsefly, Likely, G (Lac La Hache, 108 Mile) and H (Canim Lake,Forest Grove) from July 29 to Aug. 30.

Crew members will do inventory on what they can see from public roads, using binoculars, and if anyone wants to stop and ask them questions about what they are doing, they are encouraged to do so, Pressey added.

“They will not be going up driveways and will be looking at what is happening on agricultural reserve land — what kind of crops are growing, what kind of animals are out there using the area, if there is any infrastructure like fencing or irrigation, outbuildings or silos, just to understand what the use is.”

The information is then taken to back to staff at the ministry to understand what the current water needs are and if there has been a shift in use from previous inventories and to consider future land-use changes and any impacts from climate change on existing uses of the land, she explained.

It is a multi-year project that started in 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2020, funded by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership.

“Once the report is finalized it will be available for public use and I would also like to roll it out to the Cariboo Regional District and First Nations governments and the Ministry of Forests Water Stewardship staff and anyone else who is interested in what some of the current and potential future needs and water demands will be,” Pressey said.

“It will also be shared with the Climate Action Initiative Group who could use the data to identify some mitigation or adaptation strategies with the agricultural sector in the region to adopt to ensure they are resilient as they adapt to climate change and how it relates to water.”

Read more: COLUMNS: Revolutions in agriculture need to be local



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