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.
EARTH DAY: PRESERVE PASTURES FOR NATIVE SPECIES AND PEOPLE
REGINA, SK: Public Pastures – Public Interest is honouring Earth Day by publicly releasing a factsheet on Species at Risk on the PFRA pastures.
The pastures are home to over 30 officially designated Species at Risk – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct in Canada.
“Keeping the pasturelands public will help ensure that we can put provisions in place to maintain the habitat that preserves these species for future generations”, said Trevor Herriot, co-chair of PPPI.
The pastures also provide ecological benefits, such as carbon sequestration by the grasses and other plants, and filtering and purifying water.
And, the pastures are also important to people.
“In addition to cattle ranchers, residents of the province utilize and enjoy the use of the pastures”, said Lorne Scott, PPPI co- chair. “This includes hunters, photographers, First Nations, researchers and the general public on educational tours”.
“PFRA Community Pastures have been a significant asset to rural Saskatchewan for decades”, noted Herriot. “Detrimental effects to the pastures would mean that the way of life for the small ranchers, their families and communities is threatened. Privatizing the pastures could mean that First Nations people would not be able to access the lands for hunting and gathering that is their right on Crown lands,” noted Herriot. “In some ways the way of life for the ranchers and the people that practice an Indigenous traditional ways can also be considered at risk.”
“People and animals are part of an inter-related earth community. And the community pastures are a rare opportunity to protect wild species, ecosystems and local economies in a sustainable and healthy community.”
Public Pastures—Public Interest, firstname.lastname@example.org, cell 306-515-0460
Trevor Herriot, email@example.com , home 306-585-1674
Lorne Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org , home 306-695-2047, cell 306-695-745
Some sad news about the state of protection of biodiversity in Canada – with implications for the former PFRA pastures.
From the International Convention on Biological Diversity, to the state of Canada’s National Parks, to plans to save Canada’s 518 species at risk, Maxwell noted a “pattern of unfulfilled commitments and responsibilities” that appear to be the result of departments with too many demands and too few resources.
Full story here.
Conservationist readers may be interested in a group out of Alberta, Operation Grassland. From their website:
For more than 20 years, Operation Grassland Community, inspired by its ranching partners, has remained open and receptive to the changing needs of both prairie wildlife and human communities, evolving and adapting to ensure timely and appropriate action. Some highlights of this work include:
- Hundreds of ranching members acting as voluntary stewards & protecting >900,000 acres of prairie habitat.
- A ranching membership who work with us to conduct annual wildlife surveys, develop Benefiical Management Plans, and implement Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Projects.
- Partnerships with schools to provide specialized youth education opportunities on the importance of a sustainable prairie.
- Engaging and inspiring others: reaching 1000’s of rural and urban Albertans through print and social media, public presentations, and events (e.g., coming in the fall of 2013: an innovative video documentary project, the “Conservation Caravan”
Andrea Olive will be on CBC Saskatchewan radio on Monday Sept 30 at 12:30 explaining what would be involved in a “stand-alone species at risk” act for Saskatchewan.
It will be a call-in show as well – the question posed to people will be: “Should Saskatchewan create its own Endangered Species Act?” As you may have read on this site, Saskatchewan does not have its own act, and once federal lands are transferred to provincial control, as in the case of the community pastures, species at risk are far less protected.
Please share this information, and consider calling in to the show.
Andrea Olive is an assistant professor of political science and geography at the University of Toronto. Originally from Regina, Olive has a BA from the U of Calgary, a MA from Dalhousie and PhD from Purdue University (Indiana). Her area of expertise is private property and the conservation of endangered species in Canada and the US. Her next book, Land, Legitimacy and Stewardship, is coming out this December with the University of Toronto Press. The book compares Canada and US conservation strategies and features Saskatchewan as a case study.
Andrea Olive, expert on Species at Risk legislation, has an editorial in the Star-Phoenix questioning the claims of Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister that species at risk are protected in this province. This is an important issue as federal community pastures containing species at risk are transferred to provincial control.
“Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has been telling the people of Saskatchewan that the provincial government cares about endangered species and will protect them. He has assured everyone that the sale of the PFRA lands will not affect the protection of grassland birds…
If Saskatchewan is doing as good a job as Stewart has been telling us, then why does Environment Canada need to step in on provincial land? What is the Saskatchewan government doing? Why has the sage grouse declined 98 per cent since 1988 if Saskatchewan has two laws in place to protect species at risk? This is a big deal Saskatchewan. This is the first time the federal government has ever used emergency protection for an endangered species.”
The pasture transition deadline for the first 10 pastures is looming, and the issue of species at risk has not been adequately addressed. The Southwest Booster ran this excellent piece by Trevor Herriot.
“Yesterday (Aug. 30) I received news that an Alberta farmer who purchased a large block of Crown land in the far Southwest has a hired man running a 24 foot breaking plough through the sod, destroying the habitat once and for all. The land in question adjoins the west flank of the Govenlock PFRA pasture and therefore supports its ecological integrity as a single block of intact native grass. As I write this, the destruction continues and there is nothing any of us can do to stop it.
This is why Public Pastures–Public Interest and prairie conservationists in general believe that the best way to protect our largest pieces of Crown grassland is to keep them under the Crown. Easements or no easements, once they are sold to a rancher the land can be re-sold to someone who wants to plough it and plant crops or destroy it in other ways for profit.
…This province is long overdue for a thorough public review of all of our Crown native grasslands–co-op pastures, Provincial and Federal community pastures, and the seven million acres of Crown grassland leased to private cattlemen. First, to find out what we have remaining, and then to determine its ecological value (biodiversity, carbon sequestration, soil and water conservation), its heritage resources (Metis and First Nations’ ancestral sites), and its food security values, and then to decide in a full consultation with all stakeholders, how we want these incredibly valuable and endangered landscapes to be managed for the good of all and generations to come.”
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….”