Grasslands and the 2021 Federal Election – What You Can Do

11 Sep

The actions of the federal government have a huge impact on the future of our grasslands. Ask your candidates for their views on these issues and continue your active support on these policies as we go forward.

PPPI PROPOSALS FOR GOVERNMENT OF CANADA ACTION ON GRASSLANDS

1.     Public education on the roles of herbivores and other species in grasslands ecosystems, the value of native grasslands, their role in carbon sequestration, the current rapid rate of grassland decline and the ways to promote grassland conservation.

2.     National review to change provincial or federal agricultural policies creating hidden subsidies that ultimately drive the destruction of grassland and wetland habitats.

3.     Work with First Nations to develop an indigenous protected and conserved area in grassland ecoregions.

4.     Support ranchers raising cattle or bison on native grassland, with recognition and continued support of best rangeland management practices, and protect them from market forces that lead to the sale and ultimate conversion of native Prairie to cultivated crops.

5.     Improve Environmental Impact Assessment processes, broader definitions of what is assessed, more complete recognition of the accumulative impacts on native prairie and more inclusive public involvement.

  • Declare that the protection of all native grassland ecosystems is in the national interest, due to the climate change, environmental, agronomic, social and community benefits these remaining grasslands provide.  This priority should be applied across decisions and operations of all government departments and agencies.
  • Ensure that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada protects the full extent of the grasslands affected and under consideration through the assessment process.
  • For those projects being assessed or considered for assessment, ensure that all features, including the entire areal extent of native grassland ecosystems, will be addressed through the Tailored Impact Assessment Guidelines (TIAG), perhaps as a Valued Component. 

6.     Continue support for the Prairie Pastures Conservation Area in southwest Saskatchewan.

7.     Keep Crown grasslands publicly-owned and protected from development, including former PFRA and provincial pastures.

8.     Provide funds and expertise to support provincial efforts to conduct a complete inventory of our remaining native grasslands.

9.     Ensure Saskatchewan grasslands receive their portion of the 3 billion-dollar Canada Nature Fund to work with private land owners in preserving native grasslands.

10.  Withdraw all federal funding for the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project, which would effectively provide perverse incentives to plough native grassland in the region.

11.  Maintain National Wildlife Areas.

GET THE MESSAGE OUT

1.     Phone or email your candidates and speak to them personally if you can.

2.     Continue to talk to all candidates and elected representatives form all parties after the election.

3.     Write letters to the editor.

4.     Talk to your friends and neighbours.

5.     Support agricultural practices that preserve grasslands, by endorsing good government policies and through your agricultural purchases.

6.     Visit grasslands and invite friends or have events, as circumstances allow, so people can experience grasslands firsthand.

7.     And of course, support the work of PPPI and other organizations in preserving grasslands.

Stand up for Nature this federal election

9 Sep

A federal election is on its way. Nature Canada has prepared some excellent suggestions for a platform and ways to convey these ideas. https://naturecanada.ca/news/press-releases/nature-platform-released-to-help-canadians-vote-for-nature/

NATURE CANADA PLATFORM    https://naturecanada.ca/nature-platform/#platform

1.     Protect at least 30% of lands, freshwater, and ocean by 2030

2.     Support Indigenous-led nature conservation

3.     Invest in nature’s crucial role in fighting climate change

4.     Restore urban biodiversity and expand access to green space for all

5.     Advance environmental justice and prevent environmental racism.

WAYS TO SHARE THE VISION

  1. Sign the Personal Pledge to Vote for Nature.https://naturecanada.ca/nature-platform/
  2. Get a response to these questions to ask your candidate
  3. Send the Candidate’s Pledge to candidates in your riding. Nature Canada will post the pledges publicly to demonstrate who the nature leaders are amongst candidates
  4. An email form for sending the Pledge to candidates can be found here.
  5. Nature Canada prepared a toolkit on hosting a “Take your candidates into nature” event. (Time is short before the federal election, but this kind of event can be used now or in the future to influence policy decisions by elected candidates and candidates in other elections.)
  6. Organizations can use the logos for Social media posts – feel free to add your own logo, tag Nature Canada and Nature Canada will repost to their account.

Indigenous, environmental, and agricultural organizations across Saskatchewan call on the Province to halt the liquidation of Crown land

18 Mar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2021

Indigenous, environmental, and agricultural organizations throughout Saskatchewan have come together to call on the provincial government to halt the sale of treaty land to private owners. Since 2007, the Province has auctioned off over 2 million acres of Crown land – totalling an area larger than Prince Albert National Park – with sweeping implications for treaty relations, wildlife habitat, and the ability of people throughout Saskatchewan to access land for both livelihood and recreational activities.

The statement (below) is signed by over 20 organizations in Saskatchewan, including Idle No More, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Nature Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, the National Farmers Union, and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, together representing over 100,000 members.

The lands that have been privatized include formerly protected grassland, wetlands, and aspen parkland that are the territories of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota, Lakota, and Métis Peoples. “People forget that these are treaty lands that belong to Indigenous title holders,” says Sylvia McAdam, a law professor and founding member of Idle No More. “They should not be viewed as ceded lands.”

With less than 14% of grasslands remaining in Saskatchewan, Crown lands provide critically important wildlife habitat in an increasingly fragmented prairie ecosystem. “The relatively large blocks of native prairie existing on Crown lands provide a refuge and source population for many at-risk plants and animals,” says Jordan Ignatiuk, Executive Director of Nature Saskatchewan. “Their protection is crucial to avoiding the extinction of iconic prairie species.”

“We all share a responsibility to preserve the precious little native prairie that’s left and ensure that it remains accessible,” says Trevor Herriot of Public Pastures – Public Interest. “This is land we were entrusted to share and protect together under treaty, and it’s the closest thing we have to land held in common for the benefit of all treaty people. It belongs to future generations, and is crucial to honouring the treaty relationship.”

PPPI is a signatory to the following statement to Premier Scott Moe, Hon. David Marit, Hon. Warren Kaeding, and Hon. Don McMorris. Individuals wanting to show support can sign a petition here.

News coverage: The Battlefords News-Optimist and CBC Saskatchewan.


Halt Crown Land Sales in Saskatchewan

Since 2007, the Saskatchewan government has sold nearly 2 million acres of Crown land that previously belonged to the people of this province. This land – totalling an area twice the size of Prince Albert National Park – includes formerly protected grassland, wetlands, and aspen parkland that are the territories of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota, Lakota, and Métis Peoples. In our commitment to honour the Treaty relationship, protect natural landscapes, and ensure that all people have access to land for both leisure and livelihood, we call on the Saskatchewan government to halt the liquidation of public land for the following reasons:

1. Violation of Our Treaty Agreements

Treaties are legal and political agreements between Indigenous nations and the Crown that establish a framework for living together in healthy and regenerative ways for everyone’s benefit. Under Treaty, lands are to be shared and governed jointly. Liquidating Crown lands to private interests violates our Treaty agreements and our mutual responsibilities to one another and to the land. Already 85% of land south of Saskatchewan’s forest fringe is privately owned or leased under terms that exclude public access. Decreasing the land available for shared use and stewardship through further privatization moves us in the opposite direction of reconciliation. It undermines our ability to honour and implement the frameworks that allow for our coexistence in these territories.

2. Loss of Native Prairie

With less than 14% of grasslands remaining in Saskatchewan, our Crown lands provide critically important wildlife habitat in an increasingly fragmented prairie ecosystem. Native prairie also sequesters significant amounts of carbon in soil and root systems, which are vital to preserve in a changing climate. Old-growth temperate grassland is one of the most threatened and least protected ecosystems worldwide, and in Saskatchewan, it is diminishing faster than in any province or state in North America. Most of the land sold by the Saskatchewan government was previously held under the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act; now that it is in private hands, it is more likely to be cultivated. We all share a responsibility to preserve the precious little native prairie that remains.

3. Violation of Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Peoples’ inherent and Treaty rights to practice their culture and maintain their lifeways depend on access to a healthy and vibrant prairie ecosystem. Indigenous rights include, but are not limited to, hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering, and practicing ceremony and culture. These rights are crucial to Indigenous food sovereignty, language revitalization, and sustaining Indigenous relationships and responsibilities to the land. As Treaty people, it is our duty to ensure that Indigenous rights are upheld, which can only be accomplished by nurturing the ecosystems and land base upon which these rights depend.

Liquidating Crown land denies the people of Saskatchewan an opportunity to develop and implement frameworks for shared land use and governance that protect native prairie and allow for a variety of Indigenous, agricultural, and recreational land uses. This land belongs to future generations and is not the province’s to sell. We join the growing number of organizations calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to immediately halt the sale of Crown land and implement the true spirit and intent of Treaty.

Signatories

  • Anishnabek Nation Treaty Authority
  • Black Lives Matter YXE
  • Buffalo People Arts Institute
  • Calling Lakes Ecomuseum
  • Citizens Environmental Alliance
  • Climate Justice Saskatoon
  • Department of Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan
  • EnviroCollective Network
  • Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society
  • Idle No More
  • Indian Head Natural History Society
  • National Farmers Union
  • Nature Regina
  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Northeast Swale Watchers
  • Office of the Treaty Commissioner
  • Public Pastures – Public Interest
  • Saskatchewan Environmental Society
  • Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
  • SaskForward
  • Treaty Land Sharing Network
  • Wild About Saskatoon
  • Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association

Contact treatylandsharingnetwork@gmail.com to add your organization’s endorsement.

PPPI Annual General Meeting 2021

16 Mar


PPPI Annual General Meeting

Wednesday March 24, 7:00 pm, Via Zoom or phone 
For links email public4pastures@gmail.com or phone (306) 535-9570

7:00     Annual General Meeting

·       Welcome & Introductions

·       Update on PPPI activities and achievements

·       Approval of 2020 AGM minutes

·       Financial Report

·       Election of Board

7:45     Reports from organizations doing related work (If you can, please phone or email in any advance reports or slides you wish to share and let us know you have some thoughts to share.)

8:15     Interactive discussion on current issues and future actions

9:00     Adjournment

Municipal Vote an Opportunity for Habitat Protection

30 Oct

PUBLIC PASTURES – PUBLIC INTEREST

MEDIA RELEASE – For immediate release

Friday October 30, 2020

Municipal Vote an Opportunity for Habitat Protection

Regina, Saskatchewan  Public Pastures – Public Interest is reminding people that municipal governments have a key role on land use decisions and that attitudes toward habitat protection should be a consideration when we vote for town and RM councils on November 9.

Cities can make better choices in building roads and urban expansion. The Northeast swale in Saskatoon is one example, as well as the housing development all around the city, where urban sprawl is expanding into semi-natural habitat.

In Regina, the City could invest in natural, climate-change resilient infrastructure by expanding and restoring natural areas such as the McKell Conservation Area. The decommissioned Craig golf course near the airport could be turned into a natural area restored to native grasses, a place where students and visitors could learn about grassland and see what the land was like before it became a city.

Rural municipality reeves and councilors make decisions on discretionary land use. They are on the front line when it comes to land use and habitat destruction or remediation by major developments such as potash mines and rural estates.

Undeveloped road allowances are critical ribbons of habitat which provide corridors for wildlife to travel and remnant landscape for rare plants and insects. When these public lands are cleared and broke by adjacent landowners the conservation values are lost. Local R.M.s have the authority to discourage and prevent the destruction of unused public road allowances and some R.M.s do enforce their preservation. Municipalities and cities could play a leadership role in working with conservation NGOs and government agencies to conserve and restore marginal habitats in ditches and road allowances. Wetlands, grasslands and aspen bluffs all help to make our landscapes more resilient in the face of climate challenges presented by drought and flooding, and reduce the nutrient load that causes algae in our rivers and lakes.

During the recent provincial election PPPI put forward a list of recommendations for action for MLA candidates. https://pfrapastureposts.wordpress.com/saskatchewan-2020-election/  PPPPI is also working with other groups to bring more federal resources to preserving grasslands.

Temperate grasslands are the most threatened biomes on the planet. Less than 10 percent of Saskatchewan’s original prairie remains. Saskatchewan’s grasslands are a precious natural resource, the reason we are called a prairie province. There is a groundswell of support recognizing the grasslands’ role in carbon sequestration, providing critical habitat for Species at Risk and providing pastures where livestock production is part of the natural ecological cycle.

Bringing the Land onto the Public Agenda: A 4-minute evocative film about the importance of grasslands to Saskatchewan https://youtu.be/eQ3H4Ego7WY

Formed in 2012, the mission of Public Pastures – Public Interest (PPPI) is to retain and conserve publicly-owned grasslands and advocate for the conservation and protection of Saskatchewan’s remaining prairie grassland ecosystems.

Click here for printable version

For further information:

Public Pastures – Public Interest  Email: public4pastures@gmail.com

Lorne Scott: cell (306) 695-7458, home (306) 695-2047, Trevor Herriot: cell (306) 585-1674

Website: https://pfrapastureposts.wordpress.com/saskatchewan-2020-election/

Grasslands Video

8 Oct

If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is a video worth? Bringing the Land onto the Public Agenda is a 4-minute evocative film about the importance of grasslands to Saskatchewan. Please share it far and wide!

Factsheet – help with election discussions

7 Oct

We’ve created a factsheet on the importance of grasslands and community pastures that you can use when discussing election issues with others. This Sask provincial election is an important one for grasslands!

Includes facts such as:

  • Less than 10% of Saskatchewan’s native prairie remains
  • Grasslands help mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration
  • Grazing by herbivores, whether bison or cattle, provides the disturbance that grassland needs to stay healthy and diverse
  • Publicly owned lands are more than a commodity. While they have financial value for agriculture, they also provide important environmental, cultural, and recreational values for all Saskatchewan people.

Provincial Election 2020

6 Oct

The Saskatchewan election is upon us and we have created materials to help influence policies of election candidates. THIS ELECTION IS IMPORTANT FOR SHOWING SASKATCHEWAN LEADERS THE BREADTH OF THE SUPPORT FOR PRESERVING GRASSLANDS. First, we have a sample letter to MLA candidates. Please share with your neighbours, your community and your MLA candidates. People from all parties have supported wildlife habitat protection over the years – and let’s continue to do so!

A very positive development!

11 Sep
The former PFRA pastures, Govenlock, Nashlyn and Battle Creek in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan will be transferred to Environment and Climate Change Canada who will manage them much as in the past with livestock grazing used to enhance natural landscapes for a variety of native flora and fauna, including 10 Species at Risk. In return Saskatchewan will acquire lands and improvements (fencing, barns and corrals) in 55 former federal community pastures.

The agreement covering 800 square kilometers or 200,000 acres was developed in consultation with local producers. Public Pastures – Public Interest and other conservation organizations have contributed to discussions leading to the transfer of assets between the federal and provincial governments.  We are gratified to see that these pristine grasslands will be preserved in their natural state for years to come.

PPPI continues to stress the essential need to work with ranchers, conservation organizations and government agencies to bring Species at Risk programming and conservation measures to all publicly owned grasslands in Saskatchewan, particularly the former federal and provincial community pastures, and the importance of valuing preservation efforts on privately-managed and public grasslands.

Note of Explanation:
Starting in the drought conditions of the 1930s, the original pasture lands, considered not suitable for crop farming, were transferred by the Saskatchewan and Manitoba governments and some municipalities to the federal government to be administered by the program under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. In addition, the federal government bought some land to join together segments of pasture land or to provide a location for the PFRA pasture managers’ central location, plus, the federal government paid for fencing, barns and corrals to manage the cattle operations. When the PFRA program was ended, starting in 2012, the lands that had been previously transferred by the provinces and municipalities to the federal government were transferred back to the provinces. But the federal government still owned the land it had purchased on its own over the years, as well as the fencing, barns and corrals. After some discussion, including local ranchers and conservation groups, the federal and Saskatchewan governments agreed to make a swap. The federal government got the three large pastures with habitat for many Species at Risk in the southwest (Govenlock, Battle Creek and Nashlyn) and the Saskatchewan government got the federally owned lands and other cattle management assets in 55 pastures located throughout Saskatchewan.

PPPI AGM Feb 29, 2020

2 Feb
Please join us for our Annual General Meeting.
Saturday February 29, 2020, 1:00 to 5:00 pm
Lakeview United Church, 3200 McCallum Ave., Regina, Saskatchewan
There will be updates on efforts to preserve native prairie: pasture land, sale of Crown agricultural land, potash mines and coal mines affecting grasslands, guidelines regarding wind turbine projects, work to improve government policies, informing the public about the value of grasslands and ways to protect it. Plus opportunities for input and discussion.
Hope to see you there!
Location details:
Lakeview United Church website http://www.lakeviewchurch.ca/