Tag Archives: science

Species at Risk

14 Aug

PPPI has argued for the importance of the Species at Risk legislation and worries that there is no equivalent protection for provincial lands. However, it is acknowledged that even SARA has limited powers. This article goes into more detail.

“…The law states clearly that the government has nine months to make a decision about listing the species under SARA. The law also states that if no decision is taken, the species is automatically listed. This timeline was intended to prevent species at risk from being lost due to unintentional or willful government inaction.

However, recent ministers have decided to leave many of the files in limbo, not transmitting them to cabinet and so not starting the nine-month stopwatch. Indeed, over the last four years, 92 of the 141 COSEWIC assessments have never been officially transmitted. The result is that many endangered species in Canada are being put on hold, neither accepted as being at-risk nor officially rejected….”

Pasture Patrons Need More Time: CPPAS Release

11 Jul

Pasture Patrons in an untenable position as deadline looms

The Community Pasture Patrons Association is today issuing a public call for pastures slated for closure this fall to be given the option of a one year delay allowing for outstanding issues to be resolved.

Pasture patron groups are being asked to develop business plans and structure which must be approved by government by the fall of this year.  To date there are many central business questions the two levels of government have not resolved leaving patrons with too many unknowns to make sound business decisions.  Many of the first 10 pastures set to close have land classified as Federal non reversionary land of which the future is not determined.   Federal non reversionary lands are those land which will not be turned back to the province and may not be available as part of the pasture in the future.  For a number of the first ten pastures in Saskatchewan it has been determined that the headquarters are on non reversionary land. It is not reasonable to expect patron groups to build a business case without knowing what land will be available.

In addition to not being certain which lands will be available, many other asset and liability questions remain unanswered.  Governments have not determined the future of all assets which are non fixed assets, including bulls, machinery and other equipment.  Patrons wishing to develop a business plan do not know if they can include these assets in their planning.

Government ministers have assured the public that species at risk will be enforced on these lands.  To date there has been no information as to whose responsibility it will be to fulfill this guarantee.  Invasive and noxious weeds represent a large potential liability and there has been no progress on determining how these costs will be covered.  In many pastures, decommissioning of old water wells remains outstanding with the associated liabilities. Patron groups are being asked to submit proposals without all of the associated risks and liabilities being understood.

“Farmers and ranchers are being asked to put their money and time on the line to save their pastures from sale to a third party while governments are not in a position to provide the information needed to develop a plan”, said Ian McCreary, chair of CPPAS .

“Pasture Managers and PFRA staff who are key to the long term sustainability and management  of these pastures have been given layoff notices by government.  Patron groups will need these managers to be successful yet governments are making it impossible to provide these people any assurance that a job will be available.”  said Clint Christianson of Bracken Sask

“The community pasture system has been in place for three generations.  It is not reasonable for governments to expect patrons to pull together business plans during the four busiest months of the growing season especially in light of the list of outstanding issues yet to be resolved by governments. said Joanne Brochu a cattle producer and patron from Colonsay.

The Community Pasture Patrons Association of Saskatchewan (CPPAS) is a newly formed patrons organization representing the majority of pasture patrons working together  to develop viable long term plans for the sustainable future of community pastures.


And an article on the issue from the Leader-Post.


Price vs Value: The Economics of the Pastures

10 Jun

Katherine Arbuthnott and Joe Schmutz have a nuanced look at the economics of the community pastures, here. Excerpts:

“Today, when the profitability of beef production is questioned and the ecological value of grazing is misunderstood, the pastures’ benefits stand firm.

For every $1 spent, the pastures don’t only grow beef. They also generate $2.50 in research, carbon sequestration, watershed protection, specific habitat for species at risk and 12 other documented public benefits.”

“The community pastures are especially attractive for mixed and young farmers. A grain farming family’s small herd went to the federal pasture after calving and before the grain-related workload peaked. In fall ,the cows came home to clean up grain fields, eat non-marketable grain and graze hilly or flooded land.

This integrated approach to ecology, land, time and economics contributed significantly to farm diversification and income. However, it was apparently poorly understood in Ottawa. Does it also need explanation in Regina?”

“What is the solution? If wisdom and democracy are lost in Ottawa, then let’s have a Saskatchewan PFRA community pasture program.”


More Endorsers!

5 Jun

The Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada has endorsed the six principles for our heritage rangelands at risk, and called for a full consultation regarding the PFRA Pastures and indigenous rights. Our list of endorsing organizations is now at 45!

Carbon Sequestration and Grazing

30 Apr

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.

Important Article on PFRA Community Pastures

16 Apr

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.

Letters to Decision-Makers

18 Mar

Our letter-writing campaign is going strong! For your inspiration, some people have kindly let us post the letters they sent to elected officials about the community pastures. The letters come from people from very different backgrounds, who all share common sense and a love of the prairies! You can read them here.

The Importance of Rangeland Research

6 Feb

Grasslands are one of the least protected types of ecosystem in the world. Because of that, managed blocks of rangelend such as the PFRA community pastures offer unparalleled research opportunities. D.V. Gayton has this to say:

“Many observers of Saskatchewan rangelands consider the resource to be in deteriorating condition.  The gradual loss of native rangeland base and the increased grazing pressure may provide an explanation for this perceived deterioration.”

“All components of this simple grain-beef system model are all flexible and reversible, except the native rangeland category.  John Dormaar and Silver Smoliak, scientists at Agriculture Canada’s Lethbridge (Alberta) Research Station, determined the time lag between grainland abandonment and full return to original prairie vegetation to be in excess of 55 ears.  (Dormer and Smoliak 1985).”

“Governments are the major landlords of range in western North America, and Saskatchewan is no exception.  Many of these same government agencies do not collect sufficient data to determine land use, grazing and range vegetation trends.  Databases that eliminate inaccuracies and track the key parameter (native and cultivated grazing area, cow numbers, cow weights and grazing duration) should be created and maintained, for both local and regional jurisdictions.  These databases should be linked directly to a program of routine range condition analysis (generic term intended) so the connection between grazing manipulation and vegetation impact can be empirically derived. ”

“In an era of increasing public scrutiny, government range managers must find the means to acquire land use, grazing and vegetation data, link it together in empirical monitoring systems, and begin to set a publicly defensible standard of resource management excellence.”

Gayton, D. V. (1991). “Grazing pressure on Saskatchewan Rangelands.” Rangelands 13(3):107-108.

Species Will Be At Risk with Pastures Sale

11 Jan

Professor Andrea Olive, author of a recent book on Species at Risk, explains that Saskatchewan does not, in fact, have adequate protection for species at risk on community pastures under the laws that Minister Stewart says protect them. You can read the Star-Phoenix article here.

Public Pastures – Public Interest: Who We Are

3 Jan

Public Pastures—Public Interest (PPPI) draws together rural and urban Canadians who share an interest in conserving the great public grasslands of Saskatchewan.

PPPI is part of a growing community of urban and rural people in the province—farmers, ranchers, First Nations people, scientists, hunters, naturalists, and prairie enthusiasts of all kinds—who believe that the security of these pasture lands for livestock producers, conservation values and the people of Saskatchewan can best be served by the province retaining ownership of these last large vestiges of native grasslands.

A new page now explains who we are, what our aims are, and how you can get involved with us!