The Landowner Habitat Program (LHP) Project Evaluation 2000
Robert M. Corrigan
In response to a continued loss of wildlife habitat through agricultural intensification, oil and gas exploration and development and urbanization the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division introduced a habitat retention initiative on private land in teh County of Red Deer. The three-year pilot project began in 1978 and was eventually extended until 1983. Following the County of Red Deer program a three-year Landowner Habitat Program (LHP) was initiated in 1986 for the Eastern Irrigation District, Bow River Irrigation District, County of Red Deer and the County of Minburn. The LHP has a goal of maintaining or improving 77,050 acres of wildlife habitat in the targeted areas of Alberta. Habitat maintenance and improvement was achieved through short-term lease agreements of five to twenty-five years, where participating landowners were paid an annual incentive or a five-year payment, The LHP program was evaluated in 1990 and 1994 with regards to the effectivesness of short-term leases for long-term or perpetual habitat retention.
In 1997, the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) a Delegated Administrative Organization (DAO) took over administration of the LHP program. In 2000, the ACA completed an evaluation of LHP agreements with respect to agreement complicance and overall objecctives of the LHP. A total of 278 agreements were inspected for compliance and success in meeting objectives. Landowners participating in the LHP program and other similar ACA habitat retention initiatives were mailed a questionnaire regarding attitudes concerning wildlife habitat, their LHP agreements and conservation easements. Ninety-nine landowners responded to the questionnaire.
With information from the 2000 evaluation and previous evaluations completed on the LHP, recommendations on the effectiveness of short-term leases for habitat retention are made. Short-term leases do not provide significant long-term habitat retention benefits and should not be used as a long-term habitat retention tool.