Wild at Heart: ALUS Norfolk participants Kathryn and Michael Boothby are on a mission to create wildlife habitat

ALUS Norfolk helped the Boothbys create a native prairie grass buffer zone between a ravine and an agricultural field. Photo: the Boothbys.

ALUS Norfolk is a non-profit organization that works with farmers on their marginal lands to produce ecosystem services that benefit the farm and society as a whole. ALUS Norfolk participants Kathryn and Michael Boothby have incorporated wildlife corridors, erosion controls, pollinator habitat, wildlife nesting structures, and other conservation features on their cash-crop operation located within Ontario’s Priority Place – Long Point Walsingham Forest. Part of the Priority Place funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service allows ALUS Norfolk to support restoration and management of natural ecosystems, such as those on the Boothby’s farm.

One of the Boothby’s ALUS projects consists of a dug-out wetland, which they now maintain as habitat for numerous amphibian and reptile species, as well as birds. Photo: the Boothbys.

Since joining in 2012, the Boothbys have enrolled over eight of their 51-acres into the ALUS Norfolk program. Their projects produce ecosystem services such as cleaner air, cleaner water and greater biodiversity that benefit the entire community.

“Being involved with ALUS means being part of a like-minded community. You are able to learn from others, and share experiences and challenges,” says Kathryn.

One of the Boothbys ALUS projects is a dug-out wetland for amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Another – a prairie grass buffer between a ravine and agricultural field – helps mitigate erosion, reduces sediments and nutrients entering the waterway, and provides habitat for pollinators and grassland birds.

To help declining aerial insectivores, ALUS helped install two dozen nesting boxes for Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. The Boothby’s added Purple Martin housing which now supports 54 breeding pairs.

A tree swallow perches on one of two dozen nesting boxes installed through ALUS at Fairnorth Farm, one of many different types of wildlife habitat structures maintained by ALUS Norfolk participants Kathryn and Michael Boothby. Photo: the Boothbys.

Even before joining ALUS, the Boothbys worked hard to transform their property into land that also works for wildlife. Kathryn has participated on the boards of several local conservation groups. Indeed, many of their ALUS projects began with assistance from other organizations, such as Long Point Region Conservation Authority, Ontario Power Generation, Norfolk Stewardship Council, Long Point Basin Land Trust, and Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Additional projects have been supported by Carolinian Canada, Nature Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

To date over 8,000 trees have been planted. Hundreds of shrubs and wildflowers have been added, and snake nesting structures and brush and rock piles have been created and are used by at-risk reptiles and other species.

Kathryn and Michael Boothby are on a mission to create wildlife habitat on their land that benefits the natural world and ALUS Norfolk is very happy to help.

To learn more about ALUS Norfolk, contact Steph Giles, Program Coordinator at (519) 420-8127.

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