In talk around climate change, you often hear that forest preservation and reforestation is important because trees take large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. But grasses do as well. What is the connection between grazing and carbon sequestration? Dr. Diego Steinaker from the University of Regina has put together a presentation based on his research on prairie grasslands, that you can view here. His conclusion:
“Better invest in range management research and extension.” Well-managed, grazed rangelands have the ability to capture and store more carbon than expensive carbon capture and storage technologies.
Did you catch the news about Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson?
There’s more news: The Meadow Lake Progress has an article with some back-and-forth between Lyle Stewart and Trevor Herriot regarding conservation and the pastures’ future. Herriot says, “Saskatchewan is considered a backslider province in not actually having its own species-at-risk provincial legislation…There is no private land owner who’s ever been told what to do with his land because of some Wildlife Act in Saskatchewan. And the federal species-at-risk act is optional.” Read it here: Community pasture debate continues.
And in the Star-Phoenix, Kathleen Morrell writes, “The issue of PFRA pastures is one where the interests of farmers and environmentalist converge. It is a complex issue that requires time to talk, to study and to plan. Surely, one year is not too much to ask.”
Graeme Gibson photo credit: Dennis Minty
Prairie Passages Tour
June 24-28, 2013
Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, two of Canada’s most acclaimed writers, and lifelong conservationists, are coming to Saskatchewan for the Prairie Passages Tour in June. PPPI and Nature Canada have invited Atwood and Gibson to visit our PFRA pastures and Grasslands National Park. The two writers are Joint Honorary President of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club. See our Media Release.
This is an educational tour. The purpose is to raise public awareness of the national and international significance of the PFRA heritage rangelands and the need to conserve these lands and the things that live on them — the plants, the birds, the 32 species at risk, and the natural prairie — for future generations.
Much of the tour will be private, and will include bird watching, and meetings with conservationists and livestock producers who depend on the pastures. However, there will be opportunities for media interviews and for the public to see and hear our guests.
Watch this page for information on:
- How you can help us to welcome Margaret and Graeme to Regina on June 24. Location TBA, around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.
- Reception at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage , in Val Marie on June 26, at 7:30 p.m. Make your arrangements in advance since accommodation is limited.
- Prairie Passages Dinner on June 27. A fundraiser to help preserve our prairie. Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, will speak about their passion for birds and our wild places, and what they have seen and experienced on the Prairie Passages Tour. The Facebook event page is here and the website page is here.
Date: April 20
Time: 10:00 am
Place: Victoria Park, Regina
Meet at Victoria Park, Regina for an update about the future of the 1.6 million acres of community pastures Ottawa returned to the province. The crowd will hear from:
Trevor Herriot – Spokesperson for PPPI
Laura Stewart – Environmental Consultant
Jim Harding – Retired Professor of Environmental and Justice Studies
More information here.
Some great work has been done by a group of stakeholders on the pasture issue who have put together a video on the issue.
Here’s the preamble to the video:
“In April of 2012 the federal government announced it was divesting itself of 2.3 million acres of PFRA community pastures, 1.78 million of which are located in Saskatchewan. The control for these pastures has now reverted back to the prairie provinces and in response the Saskatchewan government has announced they will be seeking to sell or lease these lands to the current pasture patrons. With rising land values putting the purchase of these lands far beyond the reach of most patrons, exceeding their ability to run a financially viable operation, patrons are looking to find an alternative solution. Other stakeholders affected by this decision are looking to ensure a sustainable environmental action plan for the land is continued, safeguarding the continued health of the ecosystem and the 32 species at risk that reside there.
To help communicate this message, the various stakeholders (Patrons, First Nations, Academic and Wildlife/Environmental groups) have been meeting over the past several months to discuss their common concerns and encourage the two levels of government to reconsider their position on the importance of preserving and sustaining our community pastures. The result is a collaborative and inclusive video showcasing stakeholder concerns and their belief that, in order to ensure a positive outcome for all, they must work together to find a viable solution.
It is their hope this video will also help communicate the message to stakeholders not yet involved and encourage them to join the collaborative effort towards protecting out public interests, and maintaining current and long term sustainable management of our Community Pastures.”
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published a piece entitled “PFRA Community Pastures: History and Drama of a Prairie Commons.”
This article reviews the history of the PFRA and the multiple benefits of the community pastures, and presents an alternate strategy to management that is emerging among concerned Saskatchewan citizens. It’s a great, convincing, concise read.
The list of organizations that endorse PPPI’s principles for the pasture transition has grown by leaps and bounds! It is up to 39. Who will be the fortieth?
Bird Canada has written an eloquent appeal to birders to write a letter in support of keeping the pastures in the public domain. Here’s what they suggest:
1) Write a short, courteous letter to the Honourable Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan (address: Legislative Building, Regina, SK S4S 0B3, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) telling why you think the PFRA pastures should remain in the public domain. Please be sure to include your name and full address on all correspondence, and ask for a response to your letter. A cc to PPPI at email@example.com would also be appreciated.
2) Encourage others to write to the Premier of Saskatchewan about this issue.
3) Encourage environmental/naturalist/conservation and/or ranching and agricultural organizations to write to the Premier of Saskatchewan asking him to retain these pastures in the public domain. Also ask these organizations to post information on web pages and in newsletters so others can gain knowledge of this issue. Information on a webpage will result in a Google hit. Both politicians and the media look at Google hits to see how much support and traction an issue has.
4) Encourage environmental/naturalist/conservation and/or ranching and agricultural organizations to allow PPPI to use their logos in press releases and other documents to show the broad range of support for keeping these pastures public.
5) Encourage the media to cover this story.
This weekend, the Globe and Mail has run a three-part series on the PFRA community pasture issue in Saskatchewan, by Trevor Herriot.
Why is Ottawa abandoning swaths of prairie grassland? “As rare and ecologically important as coastal old-growth forest, the PFRA grasslands are listed by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as lands that Canada has made a commitment to protect. The federal government abandoned that commitment when it discontinued the PFRA.”
Range rider is a cowboy conservationist profiles community pasture manager Mert Taylor. “‘We are there to manage resources that belong to the citizens of Canada so that they will be there for future generations,’ he says.
Why can’t the owners of the cattle do the job?
‘The patrons we serve often live miles away from the pastures,” Mr. Taylor says, “and, besides, they have a lot of other concerns that keep them busy in the grazing season. … The bottom-line pressures of needing to get more income from their herd are always going to drive their decisions.
‘For us, it’s different. The health of the grass, the wildlife and livestock is our full-time job. We look at the longer term.'”
And a photo gallery of the prairies.
Closer to home, the Meadow Lake Progress highlights PPPI’s concerns:
Future of Indian Head nursery and pastures in question.
Our news page is updated with four recent articles on the pasture transition. Shortly after PPPI’s press conference on Thursday, the province announced some new features of potential leases for patron groups on pasture lands. Concern remains that conservation issues are being overlooked or disregarded.
This weekend, Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and Nature Québec endorsed PPPI’s six principles, bringing the total number of endorsing organizations to 32!