Alain Desmarais, president of the Regroupement des Sauvaginiers du Lac Saint-Pierre
For more information (in French only): Regroupement des Sauvaginiers du Lac Saint-Pierre
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(6 minutes, 2 seconds)
INTERVIEW WHITH ALAIN DESMARAIS
The Regroupement des Sauvaginiers du lac Saint-Pierre was founded in 1997. It was created as a result of the hunting plan drawn up by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles. The Ministère toured the Lake Saint-Pierre region to talk to hunters and see what issues they were dealing with. They drew several conclusions, and one of them was that a hunting association was needed in Lake Saint-Pierre to deal with the problems we face here concerning conservation and hunting regulations. That's mainly what we do. We discuss regulations at the federal level with the Canadian Wildlife Service. We also work to conserve local habitats. As set out in the hunting plan, we want to preserve free access for hunters to at least 50 % of the land in the Lake Saint-Pierre region. Many of the islands here needed to be restored and managed. There were opportunities to manage them, making them more suitable for wildlife. Right now, as you can see, we're on the overflow weir by Île de Grâce. Behind us, you can see Île Ronde. For some 20 years, it was used by farmers as a pasture for their livestock. People raised horses, sheep and meat animals on the island. But then a regulation was implemented that specified that these animals were no longer permitted to drink the water along the shoreline. This island belongs to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and is managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. We came to an agreement with a farmer who had leased the land as a pasture and with the Canadian Wildlife Service, to landscape the island and set up a a buffer strip all around the island to reduce erosion and provide nesting areas for ducks. In fact, when the whole island was used as a pasture, the grass was so short that ducks couldn't nest here; there was no nesting on the island. In 2005, Ducks Unlimited helped us create a management plan and draw up an agreement. So there's an agricultural lease, the farmer comes here and grows hay alternately with straw cereals. And we set up a buffer strip at least 30 metres wide, all along the shoreline. At the tip of the island, the strip is 75 metres wide. We sowed a mixture of seeds recommended by Ducks Unlimited, largely consisting of reed canarygrass. This vegetation provides cover for nesting ducks.
Here on Île de Grâce, we're also working on a project that began when the Nature Conservancy of Canada acquired a tract of land, known as Henri Letendre's land, in the grassland of Île de Grâce. The land was acquired to preserve the grassland. We shared an interest in establishing a nesting ground for breeding ducks. The land here had not been cultivated for at least a dozen years and the grassland was in very poor condition. We wanted to find a farmer who would be interested in growing hay and straw cereals here. As part of the project, we purchased a barge that could be used by a farmer to get to the island. We received some subsidies to purchase the barge, and made it available free of charge to the farmer who uses the land. This year, most of the territory is grassland. Last year, he planted some oats and kept some grassland, but this year it's all grassland. We prefer it to be kept as grassland because that was our goal: to make this territory attractive to nesting ducks.
Next year, we plan to conduct a nesting survey on both islands to see their potential and assess the results of our initiatives. We sowed seeds here in 2008, about 5 years ago, and the plants and grasses have reached maturity. We'll come here in the spring to conduct a nesting survey in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited. We'll also conduct a survey on Île Ronde. We already surveyed Île Ronde in 2008. According to Ducks Unlimited, the nesting rate was higher than the average that had previously been observed in these islands. We were pleased, and now we're planning another survey in 2013.
On Île des Barques, there's a significant problem with erosion. Ducks Unlimited has also carried out wildlife management projects on that island. We want to survey the condition of the projects, which were carried out by Ducks Unlimited in 1995. Erosion is a problem along the St. Lawrence Seaway and there may be issues because the marsh drains into the Seaway. There has been a lot of erosion on this side in the past ten years or so. We are concerned, and we plan to work with Ducks Unlimited to understand the scope of the problem.