|What has the Saskatchewan Government done lately to protect the grassland |
habitat of our Provincial Bird, the Sharp-tailed Grouse, and the many other
animals and plants that depend on natural prairie landscapes?
A media release from Public Pastures--Public Interest
[don't miss the satellite image at the bottom of the release. It shows a piece of Crown land the Province sold after removing it from the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act.]
Thursday March 31, 2016
REGINA, SK: A lot has been said in this provincial election about human needs – but what about our endangered prairie grassland and its inhabitants?
The prairie ecosystem is one of the most altered and threatened in North America – only 20% of Saskatchewan’s native prairie remains, and in some areas, such as the Regina Plains, less than 1% remains.
“Saskatchewan has the largest proportion of Canada’s Prairie Ecozone, and therefore the greatest responsibility to conserve it,” said Trevor Herriot, PPPI spokesperson. “Yet in our election campaigns the subject is seldom mentioned. This is a vital topic – we should be talking about what the prairie and its rare creatures might want to see from our elected representatives.”
As well as providing a home for more than thirty Species at Risk, including mammals, birds, butterflies, snakes, frogs and toads, grasses and wildflowers, the province’s grasslands store carbon, protect water quality and prevent soil loss.
“Our native grasslands, particularly on Crown land, are part of Canada’s natural heritage, as precious as our northern lakes and forests” Herriot said. “Do we want to rob our children and grandchildren of the chance to know the prairie and its gifts or do we want to take measures today to ensure that those gifts will be there a generation from now?”
There are a great number of things that can be done.
A government that cared for and supported our grasslands heritage would:
1. Commit to retain and not sell any Crown land with native grassland, including Community Pastures.
2. Work with ranchers, First Nations, and conservation groups to devise a plan to protect all remaining native prairie from cultivation and other forms of development.
3. Monitor and enforce Conservation Easements to prevent the breaking of native grassland and protect other grassland areas that buffer native remnants. Once native prairie is broken it cannot be restored.
4. Conduct a complete inventory of our remaining native grasslands to determine how much remains of each grassland ecotype.
5. Create Saskatchewan legislation that recognizes the value of our grasslands, as has been done in other provinces.
6. Retain all grassland and Aspen parkland Crown lands originally listed under the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act – do not sell them.
7. Make public the criteria of the Crown Land Ecological Assessment Tool and the reasons for each proposed land parcel re-classification and provide opportunities for public input on the decision.
8. Rather than lowering the standards for all grasslands to the lowest common denominator, make an effort to raise the overall quality of the Provincial Pastures and Co-op Pastures to the high standard of the PFRA-managed Community Pastures.
9. Ask the federal government to halt the transfer of any more PFRA Community Pastures to the province, administer a Strategic Environmental Assessment and review the decision to end the Community Pasture Program.
10.Work with the federal government concerning additional resources needed to manage public values on Community Pastures such as: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, ecosystem conservation, and public access.
11.Support and work with ranchers to conserve and protect grassland ecosystems, but do not off-load all public responsibilities for maintaining public benefits onto their shoulders.
12.Involve Saskatchewan’s range experts to allow ranchers to do the best job possible in maintaining functioning prairie. Saskatchewan has over 200 grass species and varieties and most of these are in the prairie zone. These species are valuable for providing seeds now and will be more so in the future.
This quarter-section was recently declared of low ecological value and sold. Yet it is an island of habitat in a sea of cropland and would definitely be habitat for many wildlife species.
|this quarter section of native grassland and aspen was removed from WHPA and sold|