On a drive from Brooks to Lethbridge in mid-May, retired provincial agronomy researcher Ross McKenzie was literally stopped in his tracks by dust clouds. Carried by high winds across drought-stricken fields, the dirt was so thick it obscured the road ahead. Disappointed, he snapped a few photos and posted them on Twitter with a desperate plea for rain. McKenzie isn’t alone in his observations. Across the province, but especially in southern Alberta, farmers have noticed the return of this agricultural scourge once thought resolved.
Thirty years ago, streambanks and shores were not valued to the extent they are now. This changed in the early 1990s, when a handful of agricultural landowners recognized the need to better manage these riparian landscapes. In kitchen table sessions, they formulated a vision with support from the Alberta Cattle Commission, now known as Alberta Beef Producers. The ABP rightly predicted the rising importance of riparian stewardship and determined the agriculture sector should lead its management.