Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grasslands in B.C.

image by Chris Hamilton, from the GCCBC web site

Grassland advocacy can be a lonely, discouraging path to follow. With grassland ecology and species in rapid retreat and threats from human activity multiplying (we can now add wind farms to the mix--if the proposed "Wild Rose" wind farms in southeastern Alta go ahead, the last Greater Sage-grouse of that province will vanish), you find yourself always scanning the horizon for any signs of hope, anyone doing something that might help. One group that came up on my horizon this winter was the Grassland Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCCBC).

Grassland in B.C.? I know, British Columbia is mountains, forests, and seashore. But they have grassland too. As the council points out on their website, “BC’s grasslands represent less than one percent of the provincial land base and are one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems.”

Most states and provinces have at least some grassland, and the interesting thing is that the ones with very little, places like B.C. and Ontario and some eastern states, seem to have the best conservation and (especially) restoration programs in place. They have looked at their endangered species lists and seen that a good many of the species at risk depend on grassland (from the GCCBC website again: “More than 30 percent of British Columbia’s threatened or endangered species depend on grasslands for their survival.”)

This Saturday I have the privilege of addressing the B.C. council at its tenth anniversary celebration. I was happy to be invited to come to this great event but I have my own agenda too: I hope to learn something about what it takes to get such an organization started, because this province desperately needs a group dedicated to conserving and restoring grassland ecosystems. During the recent struggle to stop the provincial government from selling off our crown wildlife lands, it became abundantly clear that we do not have such a voice for grassland in Saskatchewan.

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