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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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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/

Take Action on the Chaplin Lake wind turbine project

7 Jun

Two actions can help influence the Chaplin Lake wind turbine project decision and future wind turbine projects.

1. Contact the Saskatchewan Environment Minister.

Saskatchewan’s Minister of the Environment, Herb Cox, is currently considering options for approving the controversial wind energy project by Chaplin Lake  Chaplin Lake is an internationally important shorebird staging wetland, used by thousands of birds as they migrate seasonally, including many endangered species. The proposed project of 79 turbines would include 25 to 34 turbines on native grasslands, affecting 62 hectares (153 acres) that support several species at risk in breeding season. The project area would also be cut by roads, transmissions lines and other vertical structures such as buildings.

PPPI and many other groups interested in grassland conservation, including Nature Saskatchewan and Nature Canada, believe that the project should be moved off the native grassland and onto alternative/cultivated land.

Last November people wrote in their concerns and analysis to the environmental assessment process and this caused additional consultation and reflection on the project. We are encouraging people to review the material in the NEWS items below, and send letters or emails to Minister Cox strongly urging him to insist that the wind project be moved off native grassland.

Hon. Herb Cox, Minister of Environment
Mailing Address Room 38, Legislative Building, 2405 Legislative Drive, Regina, SK, Canada, S4S 0B3
E-mail: env.minister@gov.sk.ca
Phone (306) 787-0393
Fax (306) 787-1669

2. Provide input concerning draft guidelines being developed for wind energy projects in Saskatchewan,
A meeting was held May 31 with Saskatchewan Environment officials and representatives of conservation groups and comments on the draft guidelines were invited. The turn around is tight – the deadline for comments is June 15, but the document is not too long. Contact PPPI if you are interested in contributing to this effort.

PFRA pastures in Sask make National Trust endangered places list

1 Jun

Two articles this week highlighted the placement of the former PFRA pastures in Saskatchewan on the National Trust’s list of endangered places. CBC ran this article and the Leader-Post ran this article, from which the following quote is taken:

The Public Pastures – Public Interest group is quite pleased to see the pastures on the list. The group has been campaigning for years for the conservation of the pastures.

“We’re trying to end up with some form of assistance, some form of guarantee that the pastures will remain publicly owned and managed for livestock producing as well for species at risk, biodiversity and basically continue on the same track that the PFRA system had developed,” said Lorne Scott, co-chair of Public Pastures – Public Interest.

Weighing in on Species at Risk protection in southwest Saskatchewan

27 May

The proposed Action Plan for Multiple Species at Risk in Southwestern Saskatchewan: South of the Divide has now been posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry for a 60-day public comment period beginning May 24, 2016 and ending July 23, 2016.

You can follow the above link to read the plan and submit a comment by email. The plan is also available here and this form can be used when commenting.

News about the Wind Energy Project endangering bird populations at Chaplin Lake

26 May

A couple of recent Leader-Post articles by Ashley Robinson and Natascia Lypny are good reminders of the decline of migratory grassland bird populations and a conservation issue that will further endanger these birds.   The Wind Energy Project at Chaplin Lake calls for the installation of wind turbines on native prairie in an extremely critical area for migratory birds such as Sprague’s pipit and piping plover.

PPPI supports alternate energy sources, but this location is very concerning.  Along with conservationists from groups like Nature Conservancy of Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, we want to ensure that the turbines are not located in the sensitive globally significant habitat around Chaplin Lake.

Recent articles

http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/grassland-birds-in-saskatchewan-under-threat-report by Ashley Robinson

http://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-government-developing-wind-energy-siting-guidelines by Natascia Lypny

And there are also articles from last year:

http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/university-of-regina-researcher-concerned-about-songbird-population by Kerry Benjoe

http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/wind-turbine-project-raises-concerns-over-bird-safety by Natascia Lypny

As well as Trevor Herriot’s “Grass Notes” blog:

http://trevorherriot.blogspot.ca/2016/05/a-trip-to-see-species-at-risk-at.html

http://trevorherriot.blogspot.ca/2016/05/chaplin-wind-project-will-be-going-ahead.html

Saskatoon Event – Northeast Swale and Conservation

23 Mar

“Paving Paradise”

April 18, 7-9 pm at the Frances Morrison Central Library Theatre

Join speakers Candace Savage and Larry Beasley after a viewing of the film “Division Street”.

FAPavingParadise02_16

Protected Areas: Saskatchewan’s “Geography of Hope” at risk

14 Mar

Is conservation an issue in the provincial election? Trevor Herriot argues, in the Leader-Post, that it should be:

In 2012, the federal government cut the PFRA community pasture program, placing the lion’s share of our protected grasslands in limbo. The Saskatchewan government chose to pass on management responsibility for these ecologically rich lands to private grazing corporations, offering to lease or sell them. By any application of the IUCN criteria for protection, you can no longer count conservation land stripped of its biodiversity programming, then leased or sold primarily for cattle grazing.

So where is Saskatchewan at then, once we remove the WHPA lands for sale and PFRA pastures from the tally of protected areas? Our protected area percentage drops from 8.7 to 6.34 per cent — nowhere near the 17-per-cent commitment under Canada’s 2020 Biodiversity Targets and Goals and half our original RAN commitment.

Making a Difference for the Community Pastures and our Grasslands

16 Feb

We have received word that there is a possibility that the new federal government may consider reviewing the Harper decision to dump the PFRA pastures system. However, we are told that, for that to happen, our elected MPs, and the Minister of Agriculture Canada in particular, must hear about it from concerned citizens.

So we are asking everyone to send letters to the Minister of Agriculture, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, as well as the Hon. Ralph Goodale and the Prime Minister as soon as possible (see addresses below).

We have a brief window of opportunity to convey our deep concerns over the demise of the PFRA Pastures in Saskatchewan and to ask for the federal government to halt the transfer of the pasture lands and conduct a full review of the Harper government’s decision.

Your letters need not be long and detailed. A simple approach is to ask the federal government to halt the transfer of these pastures to the province of Saskatchewan which is not recognizing, managing or investing in the value of public goods on these vanishing grasslands.

We have heard from government sources that it important to emphasize the climate change benefits of native grassland but you should use your own words and choose any of the points listed below stating why these grasslands are important to you (e.g. climate change mitigation, conservation, Species at Risk, hunting, etc.) Tell them you want to live in a Canada that protects endangered landscapes and sustainable agriculture initiatives like the PFRA system always did.

We would also like people to request a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of the risks to the natural and human heritage in the PFRA Pastures, in accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals.

It is very important that you include your full name and address, even if you are sending an email. Politicians always note the location where correspondence comes from. Be sure to request a reply to your letter.

Below are some points you may wish to reference in your letter. We suggest you select two or three and use your own words.

–    The Community Pasture lands are not “just agricultural lands.”

–   These pastures contain the largest and best managed grasslands in Saskatchewan.

–   Some 80% of our natural landscape in southern Saskatchewan has been lost to development.

–   These pastures are part of Canada’s commitment to its 2020 Biodiversity Goals, in accordance with the Global Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

–   Prairie grasslands are vital elements of the public trust every bit as precious as our northern forests and lakes

–   The prairies have more Species at Risk than any other region of Canada.

–   Over 30 Species At Risk are found on the pastures.

–   Carbon sequestration is an important benefit of native grasslands.

–   Soil and water conservation is provided by the pastures.

–   Pastures contain many heritage sites from indigenous people and homesteaders.

–   Pastures provide important hunting opportunities, generating $70 million annually.

–   Keeping the pastures publicly owned is the best way to protect the many benefits they provide.

–   Indigenous rights to access the land based on international declarations would be harmed by privatization of the land.

–   Producers should not be expected to pay for managing the land for public benefits.

–  The many public benefits should be maintained and enhanced with public dollars.

–  The Canadian people’s 75 year investment in the Community Pastures could be lost by eliminating the federal support for Community Pastures.

Address your letters to:

The Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca

Send copies to the PM and Ministers listed:

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca

The Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and MP for Regina-Wascana

ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca

The Right  Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

If you send your letter by regular mail, all mailing addresses are: House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6

No postage is required on any mail addressed to the House of Commons.

Many thanks, for your support. We believe we have a chance to make a difference with this letter campaign. Your letters are very important and could help turn the tide.