Tag Archives: vita

Manitoba – The Most Flammable Place in Canada

Reid Dickie

As you can see on this map from the Natural Resources Canada, most of southern Manitoba is tinder-dry and wildfire-ripe. Today, at least three wildfires still burn in the southeastern part of the province in spite of the efforts of 12 helicopters, 11 water bombers, 26 pieces of heavy equipment and over 120 firefighters. The largest fire, near Badger, remains out of control and firefighters are concentrating on fire lines to protect the little village. So far, they have been successful. The fire near Vita – my video is here – continues to burn as does the large fire near Marchand. In this picture (left), smoke obscures visibility on PR 201, east of Vita. At this time, firefighting efforts are primarily protecting buildings and property. None of these fires are deemed under control.

The weather yesterday and today has been very hot, windy and dry, reaching 30 degrees in some areas. Rain is promised on Saturday which will help bring the fires under control as long as it is a sustained rain. Wind direction and speed will also be critical over the next 48 hours.

Inside and outside provincial parks in all of eastern Manitoba, the province has imposed backcountry travel restrictions, no-burning orders and, in some cases, will require travel permits to access certain areas. Generally, it’s a good idea to be extra fire cautious everywhere in Manitoba this long weekend. Check out Manitoba Conservation’s latest fire information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Earth Phenomena, Fires, PRAIRIES

Manitoba Wildfires Spring 2012

Reid Dickie

Last spring at this time we were seeing these signs because of floodwaters. This year, in a 180 degree turnabout the emergency is fires…wild fires. I shot this on Sunday May 13, 2012, east of Vita, MB along Provincial Road 201. When I asked the girl at the convenience store in Vita what was burning she said, “Everything.”

 Seems several small fires have converged into one large fire and are the cause of one of several huge plumes of smoke I saw today, each indicating fires across the landscape of south-easternManitoba.

A strong westerly wind today fanned flames in every direction. It’s been a dry, hot and windy spring and the ground is bone dry as is the understory which is mostly what you see burning in the forested areas. It’s so dry the fire is easily burning against the high winds.

The area behind the flames is a scorched landscape, blackened for miles and miles along PR 201. Emergency vehicles scream by me. Closer to the blaze the air is filled with crackling fire and the smell of smoke, visibility on the road is reduced to almost zero at times. Click the pic to watch my two and half minute video report on the wildfires.

Leave a comment

Filed under Earth Phenomena, Life and Life Only, PRAIRIES

Manitoba’s Heritage Animal

           Its distinctive image appears on Manitoba’s flag, life-size bronze replicas flank the Grand Staircase in the Manitoba Legislature and restaurants all over the province offer its tasty healthy meat on their menus. If Manitoba has a heritage animal, the bison is it, MTS advertising notwithstanding.

       In 1800, sixty million bison freely roamed the Central Plains. By 1865, 15 million remained, just 7 million in 1872. In 1900, one thousand bison were left in the world.  Brought from the edge of extinction by the efforts of an unlikely combination of visionary people, bison still roam the land, numbering 19,000 in Manitoba, most of them on farms. Two small display herds, one near Lake Audy in Riding Mountain National Park and one at Fort Whyte Centre in Winnipeg, total 50 animals.

      The life of a bison today isn’t much different than it was thousands of years ago. Farmed but not domesticated describes the current bison population. They are back at home on their native range, preferring to be left alone in large roaming areas. They feed on similar grasses as their ancestors and grow to full maturity in about two years. In Manitoba, 120 farms produce bison, seven of them on First Nations.

      Leonard Chopp, president of the Manitoba Bison Association, runs 100 head of bison near Vita. After fifteen years of experience raising bison, Chopp says demand is expanding worldwide. 

     “It’s a healthier meat, lean and tasty, low in calories and fat, high in protein,” says Chopp. “Bison aren’t subjected to drugs, chemicals, growth hormones or steroids because they are fed naturally and grow naturally. We keep them in their natural state.”

     Chopp has seen a change from breeding stock being more valuable than the meat to just the opposite. The meat sells these days. Despite a decrease in the number of bison producers in Manitoba over the past few years, herd numbers have remained steady.

     “The average Manitoba herd numbers about 200 animals,” says Chopp. “A few producers run 3,000 head and some just a few dozen.”

     New markets and opportunities are opening up for bison producers. Active promotion means bison is sold in more local grocery stores and served in more restaurants than ever before. People have acquired the taste.

      “Here in Manitoba many producers are also active marketers. More brokers and distributors are promoting bison meat, getting it into stores,” says Chopp. “Demand is growing worldwide with markets opening in other provinces, the US and Europe.”

       Prehistorically, the bison was a shopping mall on the hoof. No part of the animal was wasted. Today, besides the meat, bison hides are tanned for leather goods. First Nations people use skulls and other bones ceremonially.

      Asked about his feelings for his herd of heritage animals, Chopp said, “It makes me proud to raise these majestic animals. It’s a good feeling to have contributed to restoring them back to a reasonable number, that they are safe from extinction.”

      Prehistoric bison culture was recently recognized with the development of the Clay Banks Buffalo Jump on Badger Creek just north of Cartwright. A viewing area across the valley provides information on the 2,500-year history of the site.

     Are they bison or buffalo? Leonard Chopp says they are both. “It’s personal preference.” Whatever you call them, the next time you come across bison meat in a grocery store or on a restaurant menu, try it. Think of it as a heritage food.

Leave a comment

Filed under Critters