PASTURES PETITION CALLS FOR MULTI-USE CONSERVATION NETWORK

20 Sep

PUBLIC PASTURES – PUBLIC INTEREST

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday September 20, 2017

 

PASTURES PETITION CALLS FOR MULTI-USE CONSERVATION NETWORK

Regina, Saskatchewan:  A petition tabled in Parliament today by MP Wayne Stetski calls on the federal government to work with livestock producers, First Nations and Métis organizations, local committees and conservation groups to restore conservation programming to the former federal Community Pastures. These pastures are recognized widely as being among the continent’s most ecologically important remnants of native prairie, which not only provide health and cultural benefits to Saskatchewan people, but are also home to more than 30 endangered species.

 According to the World Wildlife Fund’s “Living Planet Report” released last week, “natural prairie grassland is considered the most heavily degraded terrestrial habitat in the world.” The report goes on to state that “populations of grassland birds have seen their numbers plunge on average by 69 per cent since 1970 . . . .The most significant threat to the region’s wildlife is habitat loss, as the grasslands have been converted into agricultural fields or divided by other development.” Living Planet Report Canada http://www.wwf.ca/newsroom/reports/lprc.cfm

 When asked about the loss of conservation programming for these rare ecosystems, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Minister, Lawrence Macaulay, has repeated the position of Harper government Minister, Gerald Ritz, saying that the community pasture program is no longer needed because it has “achieved its objectives.”

Macaulay suggests that environmental legislation including Species at Risk Act will on its own replace the pre-existing grassland biodiversity and conservation programming, and compel private ranchers now leasing the lands to manage for ecological objectives and species at risk.

The WWF report underscores the deficiencies in the past and current federal government’s approach to conservation. “The rapid decline of grassland animals such as the greater sage-grouse and burrowing owl have shown that species at risk legislation on its own is not enough,” said Trevor Herriot, grassland advocate and co-chair of Public Pastures—Public Interest. “It is disingenuous to suggest that private livestock producers will have the capacity to protect biodiversity, species at risk and carbon sequestration without support from government.”

 “The federal government has an opportunity to utilize contributions from both the environment and agriculture ministries and play a positive leadership role in recognizing the shortcomings of previous federal government’s decision to eliminate the PFRA program and the supports it was providing for the ecological care of the pastures.”

 “The ranching businesses on their own cannot be expected to manage a mix of habitat for so many prairie species at risk. Without significant federal support for conservation initiatives, as outlined in the petition, the trends identified in the WWF Report will not improve.”

 Public Pastures – Public Interest is a network of local and international individuals and organizations working for the preservation and sustainable use of Crown pasturelands and grasslands.

 

Trevor Herriot Cell: 306-585-1674

E-mail: public4pastures@gmail.com

Website: https://pfrapastureposts.wordpress.com

 

Wayne Stetski Office: 613-995-7246

 

E-Petition e-927 (Land use) to Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, presented in the Canadian Parliament by Wayne Stetski, MP on September 20, 2017

Whereas:

·       Canada’s old growth prairie is representative of the most endangered and least protected ecosystems on the planet (The Hohhot Declaration, July 2008; Dan Kraus, October 24, 2016) and provides a vast array of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, species-at-risk habitat, soil and water conservation;

·       Retaining the public ownership and ecological integrity of the former Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) Pastures answers Canada’s obligations to our international commitments including the UN Convention on Biodiversity and Aichi Accord, Paris Accord, the Migratory Bird Convention as well as our national biodiversity strategy, Pathway to Canada Target 1; and

·       Retaining public ownership and ecological integrity of the former PFRA Pastures aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, contributes to Canada’s commitment to Indigenous peoples under the numbered Treaties and responds to Reconciliation efforts.

We, the undersigned, Citizens and Residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to work with livestock producers, First Nations and Métis organizations, local committees and conservation organizations to create a multi-use prairie conservation network on all former PFRA Community Pastures that meets ranchers’ needs for grazing and protects Canada’s 75-year investment in the ecological wellbeing of this important ecosystem and its biodiversity, treaty, climate change, and heritage values.

 https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-927

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New Factsheets!

23 May

Two new factsheets are now available. One addresses the link between being in nature and increased cognitive, physical and emotional health. The other explains the many national and international conservation agreements, declarations, and conventions that Canada is party to regarding biodiversity, climate change, indigenous peoples, and grasslands.

These factsheets can be shared widely, and used when writing letters or speaking to elected representatives and other concerned citizens.

Saskatchewan Pastures Program

5 May

PPPI has issued a media release highlighting the Saskatchewan Pastures Program’s proposed closure and the government’s consultation process. https://pfrapastureposts.files.wordpress.com/…/pppi-release…

PPPI sees the closure of the provincial pasture program as another step in privatizing Saskatchewan’s grassland commons. By removing public involvement and management of these lands, the Province is first giving up the infrastructure that could be used to do a better job of managing public grasslands for climate change mitigation and species recovery. But it is also exposing their carbon storage capacity, biodiversity, and species at risk to the market forces and private interests that inevitably drive land use decisions and lead to habitat erosion and fragmentation over time as good private stewards retire and are eventually superseded by managers who push the land harder for short term gain. A community pasture management system gives government at least the capacity to protect the commons for the long term public good.

PPPI met with Saskatchewan government representatives on April 27 and highlights of the points presented as well as the full brief to the government are here:

https://pfrapastureposts.files.wordpress.com/…/pppi-recc-hi…

Sask Government Survey on Provincial Pastures

10 Apr
In its March 22, 2017 budget the Saskatchewan government announced they would end the provincial pastures program and sell the land. Please write the Premier and fill out Sask Agriculture’s survey.
Sask Agriculture Pasture Land Consultation
They are doing a consultation with invitational meetings and an online survey. The survey is located here
You will notice that the survey is biased and doesn’t ask the basic question – Do you want the pastures sold? People need to make it clear they are in favour of retaining the pastures as public lands.
 
There are three spots in the survey where you can fill in your thoughts. This could include these points:
 
– Keep the provincial pastures as public lands – this is a top priority
 
– Express strong opposition to subdividing the pastures whether publicly or privately owned.
 
There is no urgency or economic advantage to dispose of the provincial pastures program. Delay the decision for an additional year to give more time for a proper inquiry into options.
 
– Sponsor a fully independent review of the ecological, agro-economic, and cultural effects of changes to the PFRA and provincial pastures systems.
 
Let them know 
Write, e-mail, fax  or phone the Premier and cc the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture
 
In addition to the points above  say why the pastures are valuable to you and society as a whole, such as: habitat for conserving native flora and fauna especially Species at Risk, soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, public access for recreation and research, accommodating sustainable livestock grazing while conserving habitat.
Premier Brad Wall
Telephone 306-787-9433
FAX 306-787-0885
Mailing Address: Room 226, 2405 Legislative Drive, Regina, SK, Canada, S4S 0B3
Email Address: 
premier@gov.sk.ca

 

Hon. Scott Moe, Minister of the Environment
Telephone: 306-787-0393
FAX: 306-787-1669
Mailing Address: Room 345, Legislative Building, 2405 Legislative Drive, Regina, SK, Canada, S4S 0B3
Email Address: 
env.minister@gov.sk.ca

 

Hon. Lyle Stewart, Minister of Agriculture
Telephone:306-787-0338
FAX: 306-787-0630
Mailing Address: Room 334, Legislative Building, 2405 Legislative Drive, Regina, SK, Canada, S4S 0B3
Email Address: minister.ag@gov.sk.ca

Saskatchewan Community Pastures Program to End

27 Mar

The Leader-Post covers the issue here.

The plan, announced in the provincial budget, is to phase the provincial pasture program out over three years, with 2017 being the last year it fully operates. The program includes 51 pastures operating on 780,000 acres of land.

PPPI Co-Chair Trevor Herriot was interviewed by the CBC on the potential impacts on prairie conservation.

When you privatize public conservation land, you’re severely weakening your ability to create and enforce laws, policies, regulations, if you want to meet prairie for sustainable grassland management. There’s a lot of public interest in these lands

There will be consultations made for the future management of the land with the public, stakeholders, First Nations and Metis communities. An online survey will be available online at www.saskatchewan.ca/pastures from March 27 to May 8.

Official Parliamentary Petition – Take Action!

12 Mar

As a result of recent developments in Ottawa and in the national media, PPPI has launched an official parliamentary petition to Hon. Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, calling on her to work with livestock producers, First Nations and Métis organizations, local committees and conservation organizations to create a multi-use prairie conservation network on all former PFRA Community Pastures.

Please fill out and share this petition with others before July 6th when it closes. Already it is garnering support across Canada  – we need 500 signatures in order for final certification.

https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-927 

Grasslands are the most endangered, the most altered and yet the least protected ecosystem on the planet. The Community Pastures in Saskatchewan contain some of the largest, best managed and biodiverse rich blocks of remaining native grasslands in North America.  A conservation network will not only protect our grasslands but support Canada’s biodiversity Target 1 to protect 17% of all terrestrial areas and inland water. http://www.conservation2020canada.ca/pathway/

A Chance to Take Action – Pastures on the Federal Government Radar

1 Mar
Recently the future of community pastures was raised in the House of Commons, with a question by Wayne Stetski, NDP and a response by Hon. Catherine McKenna, Liberal, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. (See the post on this page from February 22)
The CBC subsequently interviewed Trevor Herriot and Mert Taylor. If you missed the interview you can listen to it or read the transcript at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-february-21-2017-1.3991287/canada-s-grasslands-most-endangered-least-protected-ecosystems-1.3991299

If you want to send a message about conservation of the community pastures, you can consider the following:

‘In response to Wayne Stetski’s question during question period regarding the transfer of federal pastures to Saskatchewan, you said, “Mr. Speaker, I take very seriously the obligation to protect our natural environment. I am committed to working with the member on this issue to find a resolution.”

As a citizen of Canada concerned about our endangered native grasslands and their capacity for carbon storage, climate change adaptation, the numerous public benefits derived from these ecosystems, and the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to access publicly-owned grasslands, I call on you as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to commit resources that will help livestock producers and communities, conservationists and Indigenous peoples to work together to protect the old growth prairie on the former federal community pastures from market forces that drive cultivation, ranchette development, badly-managed resource exploitation, and privatization.’

Email: Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca
Telephone: 1-613-996-5322

Fax: 1-613-996-5323                    

Mail: Hon. Catherine McKenna, House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6 (Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament.)

And in addition you may post a response on Facebook at The Current CBC (February 21 at 4:48pm) https://www.facebook.com/cbcthecurrent/

Save the Date! PPPI AGM

27 Feb

The PPPI Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday March 25 from 1 to 5 pm.

The meeting will be held at Lakeview United Church, 3200 McCallum Ave, Regina. There is parking on the street and in behind the church. Use the west entrance off of McCallum Avenue. http://www.lakeviewchurch.ca/  (Click the Contact & Map button in the upper right hand corner to see a map of the location.)

We will be having updates on the many recent developments concerning grasslands at the provincial and national levels and discussions on the next steps to be taken in preserving the heritage of the community pastures and other grasslands. A more detailed agenda will be posted closer to the meeting date.

Hope to see you there!

Pastures featured on The Current

22 Feb

If you missed the interview with PPPI Co-chair Trevor Herriot and retired PFRA cowboy Mert Taylor talking grasslands with CBC Radio’s Anna Maria Tremonti on Tuesday, February 21, you can find it here. A partial transcript is also available on the site.

The issue came to the attention of the CBC because this past Wednesday, the Federal NDP’s Wayne Stetski (Kootenay-Columbia) rose during Question Period with the following question about the transfer of pastures to Saskatchewan:

“Mr. Speaker, both Conservative and Liberal governments have downloaded responsibility for Saskatchewan’s environmentally critical grasslands without any concern for their future. These grasslands are unique ecological heritage sites. They act as important carbon sinks and are home to rare and threatened species. Now the government is considering giving away the last of these grasslands in southwestern Saskatchewan and ending the environmental protection they receive.

Will the Minister of Environment and Climate Change commit today to create a new national wildlife area to preserve these ecosystems for future generations?”

Response from Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):

“Mr. Speaker, I take very seriously the obligation to protect our natural environment. I am committed to working with the member on this issue to find a resolution.”

42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION, EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 141
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=42&Ses=1&DocId=8769411

NDP urges federal government to preserve last federal pastures

16 Feb

NDP urges federal government to preserve last federal pastures: news article from CBC.

“Conservative and Liberal governments have handed off responsibility for Saskatchewan’s environmentally critical grasslands without any concern for their future protection,” Kootenay-Columbia MP and National Parks critic Wayne Stetski said during question period Wednesday.

“As we come close to losing the last three pastures in the southwest corner of the province, will the minister of the environment commit today to creating a new National Wildlife Area to preserve them for future generations?” Steski asked.