Turning up the Heat on Prairie Grasslands

Image of Stephen Hazell

Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel

As summer arrives, advocates for native prairie grasslands are turning up the heat on the federal government to conserve these endangered places.

In late May, the community pastures of Saskatchewan were named as one of The National Trust for Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Places for 2016. The decision by the former government to stop managing the 1.8 million acres of these federal community pastures in Saskatchewan has left these important prairie ecosystems at risk.

Last week, Wayne Stetski, NDP Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia, asked Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay during Question Period in the House of Commons whether the government is going to put the transfer of federal community pastures on hold and restore the program that restored and protected millions of hectares of prairie grasslands for both ranching and conservation. Minister MacAulay didn’t respond directly, but did allow that he and his officials will be having further discussions with the provinces on the process regarding the divestiture of community pastures.

This week, Nature Canada and Saskatchewan nature and ranching groups are jointly bringing forward a proposal to Minister MacAulay and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to establish an independent mechanism that would provide expertise and assistance to the ranchers who graze their cattle on these pastures to develop range plans, monitor range health, and build capacity of pasture managers to achieve sustainable grazing and biodiversity conservation.

Ranchers and nature groups are working together to achieve these objectives of sustainable grazing and conservation of native grasslands. It is time for the new federal government to put on hold the transfers of these community pastures to Saskatchewan for private sale and begin serious discussions about to conserve these endangered grasslands.

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