For Immediate Release

Agriculture and Conservation working
side by side in Western Manitoba
Birdtail and Upper Assiniboine River Tour
Focuses on water management via wise land use solutions
Winnipeg, Mb (June 20, 2017) --- A tour of agriculture and conservation interests hosted by five partner groups will bring messages and examples of water management, wise land use planning, economic prosperity and environmental synergies on agricultural lands to 80 or so delegates and media tomorrow in Russell, Manitoba. 
The groups - Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association (MFGA), Assiniboine River Basin Initiative (ARBI), Manitoba Conservation Districts Association (MCDA) and the Upper Assiniboine River and the Lake of the Prairies Conservation Districts - are woven together by their support for the MFGA's Aquanty Project, a high resolution HydroGeoSphere model that is being built by the Aquanty software firm for the Assiniboine River Basin to examine the role of forages and grasslands on flood and drought mitigation. The areas around Russell were selected for the tour as the nearby Birdtail River will be the one area that will be drilled down upon during the first phase of the project. 
"It's an exciting day for us," said Dave Koslowsky, MFGA Chair. "Together with our partners at ARBI and MCDA and the two host conservation districts, we have put together an informative tour agenda that will blend the insights and progress of the model experts with the work of farm producers and land managers who are working on the land. The ability for each to see what and how the other is doing and then cross-reference that back to their specific areas will be invaluable going forward." 
As the project proponent, MFGA will hold the access to the MFGA Aquanty model licence. While cost to access is still being worked on as the model progresses, Koslowsky says MFGA will share its conceptual plans on an early template of proposed levels of user groups that may use the model as a planning tool in times ahead. The MFGA Aquanty Project is on schedule for completion March 2018. 
Koslowsky is pleased that the tour concept drew great interest and support from project partners at Agriculture and Ag-Food Canada, Manitoba Agriculture, Aquanty, ISM/IBM, and project co-partner ARBI, as well as the MCDA, and the two area conservation districts and the entire project steering committee. In fact, to ensure the tour maximized the interests of as many as possible, MCDA (June 20) and ARBI (June 22) will sandwich the tour date with individual meetings on either side of the tour. 
"ARBI welcomes the opportunity to showcase watershed management initiatives in the Assiniboine and Birdtail regions of the Basin," said Dr. Allan Preston, ARBI Chair. "We are excited to see the significant progress on the Aquanty model for the overall Basin, excited to assess the potential for improvements in the watershed that are attributable to enhanced land and water management on the landscape." While six conservation districts are found in the Assiniboine River Basin, MCDA Chair Arnold Coutts said showing the benefits of wise land use planning is of huge interest to the MCDA across the board. 
"We have a lot of interest in what's going on with conservation and agriculture in the province via our partnerships and projects," said Coutts. "The MFGA Aquanty tour is a great example of showcasing the research and some of the producer efforts underway in the region to promote the understanding and value of strong watershed-based programming to all the partners." 
Ryan Canart of the Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District agrees. 
"Individual field scale activities can have a real impact on flooding and drought at the watershed scale," said Canart. "We will be using the MFGA Aquanty model to validate our programming, inform landowners and guide broader conservation efforts in the Assiniboine Birdtail Watershed."
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For more information: 
Duncan Morrison, MFGA Executive Director
Duncan@mfga.net
204-770-3548
More info on MFGA Aquanty project at  http://mfga.net/aquanty/ .

MFGA  interacts with tens of thousands of Manitobans through our communications, 
collaborative projects, and outreach that promote the importance and well-being of Manitoba`s forages
and grasslands. On a national scale, MFGA proudly partners with like-minded groups across Canada.