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As we look across the landscape this fall, it is important to remember our farmers and ranchers are hard at work harvesting their crops after another trying growing season. After managing a late start to seeding, dry growing conditions (and now a wet harvest) some are also observing crop damage caused by unauthorized access to their fields and crops. In some instances the damage can run into the thousands of dollars in lost crop yield and damage to property, fences and equipment.All-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles can trample annual crops and compact soils to the point where the lands ability to transfer water and nutrients to growing plants is drastically reduced. This damage may not be intended or even visible to the offender, but it is apparent to the farmer. Any type of traffic on agricultural lands can spread weed seeds and soil disease to a new field which is of great concern to local farmers and ranchers. Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease that can significantly reduce yields and quality of canola crops and is found at varying levels across Red Deer County.“Producers that have fields infected with clubroot have to manage the disease to reduce the spread to other non-infected lands. Reducing access to these fields is one of the management practices,” said Cody McIntosh, Red Deer County Agricultural Manager. “In severe cases, they also need to clean, sanitize and disinfect any equipment leaving these clubroot fields. When the public accesses these areas they may be unintentionally spreading disease to other lands”.Recreational users, including hikers, hunters and fishermen have a great interest in the landscape that Red Deer County has to offer, but all must work to protect that landscape from unintended harm. Therefore, the public should always obtain permission from a land’s owner or occupant before accessing it. Otherwise, the landscape will change from trees and grass to fences and gates.Check out Red Deer County’s website (Interactive Maps – on the top toolbar) for a mapping tool that can help you identify these amazing lands: http://www.rdcounty.ca/Find detailed maps of Alberta’s public lands at: https://albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlands/public-lands/