Lacombe County has announced the recipient of its 2023 Environmental Stewardship Program award to Ward Nelson. Council presented the award to Ward during the October 26, 2023 Council Meeting. The award serves to recognize and celebrate individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the advancement of environmental stewardship within the County.
Ward Nelson, a County resident for the past 10 years, has been actively involved in environmental initiatives in his community. Situated alongside the picturesque Medicine River, his property spans approximately 1.4 kilometres of the riverbank. Ward has dedicated himself to safeguarding this vital ecosystem by diligently mitigating livestock-related damage to the river and its adjacent banks. Ward's land management practices have seen the integration of a rotational grazing system, ensuring that no area is overgrazed and facilitating the flourishing of native flora.
To keep his cattle and horses from using the river as a water source, Ward installed a solar powered livestock watering system and constructed a dugout. Additionally, he has embarked on an ambitious reforestation project, planting over 2000 tree seedlings along the riverbanks to restore the natural vegetation and enhance the stability of the riverbanks.
In a remarkable display of collaborative stewardship, Ward actively partnered with Lacombe County to employ thistle weevils as a biological control measure for Canada thistle, thereby significantly reducing the use of herbicides and contributing to the preservation of the local environment.
He is an active Medicine River Watershed Society member, actively engaging in various initiatives to protect and enhance the river's health. He regularly participates in meetings with oil companies operating in the area, passionately advocating for the importance of the Medicine River and its continued protection.
The Lacombe County received three nominees deserving of the award, but the decision to select Ward was unanimous because of his significant contributions to the landscape and the community.