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One-Four Research Farm: A Cooperative Wildlife Management Area
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One-Four Research Farm: A Cooperative Wildlife Management Area

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption] Located in southeastern Alberta, One-Four Ranch Research Facility, most of which is leased land from Alberta, has served as a hub for both agricultural and conservation research since 1927. The site is a 42,000-acre expanse of semi-arid mixed-grass prairie, situated south of Medicine Hat AB. One-Four Ranch is a part of the Northern Great Plains and home to at least 23 federally listed species at risk, and other rare species including the threatened Swift Fox, the endangered Mountain Plover and the threatened Soapweed. One-Four Ranch has traditionally occupied a common ground for achieving the goals of ranchers and conservationists. Its operations yielded agricultural research that had a pivotal influence on the production strategies and market valuations of ranchers. With respect to conservation, the research conducted at One-Four demonstrated that ranching and wildlife protection do not merely co-exist – they can actually complement one another. An operational framework that centres on preserving essential habitat features for species at risk involves well-managed pasture grazing; in fact, some species, such as the Mountain Plover, depend on grazing by ungulates to maintain optimal grass conditions. [caption id="attachment_15197" align="alignright" width="215"]Image of a Greater sage grouse A Greater Sage-Grouse by Gary Kramer[/caption] In 2012, AAFC proposed a transfer of One-Four lands to the Province of Alberta. Shortly after, major conservation organizations began questioning how such a transfer would benefit conservation of the grasslands and grasslands wildlife. The Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) contested the proposed transfer arguing that the One-Four grasslands should be protected under the Canada Wildlife Act. AWA cited the importance of this research farm to the re-introduction of endangered prairie species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse. The Greater Sage-Grouse cannot afford to lose anymore native grassland habitat – sagebrush accounts for about half of their diet during the warmer seasons, and 100% of their winter supply. In light of the complicated land-holding arrangements, Nature Canada has supported establishment of  One-Four Ranch as a Cooperative Wildlife Management Area, under which management responsibilities would be shared between Alberta, Canada and ranchers whose cattle graze this land. Nature Canada also has been calling for greater protection of 7 other proposed protected areas. To read more about these critically important sites, click here.

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Federal Strategy needed to protect Wild Lands and Water
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Federal Strategy needed to protect Wild Lands and Water

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Canada urgently needs a strategy to meet its international commitments to protect 17% of our land and 10% of our oceans by 2020 says Nature Canada. Nature Canada’s Eleanor Fast and Alex MacDonald testified at the House of Commons Environment Committee on May 10 with recommendations on how Canada can achieve its so-called Aichi targets under the Convention for Biological Diversity. First, the federal government needs to stop transferring away protected areas it currently manages. Currently, 700,000 hectares of mainly native grasslands are being transferred to the Government of Saskatchewan, which has stated will be sold privately once transferred. These grasslands provide critical habitat for dozens of species at risk, conserve soil and water, and store carbon that would otherwise be released as greenhouse gas emissions. Second, federal efforts to ramp up establish new National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries needs to be accelerated. Overlooked for new funding in the 2016 federal budget, the Canadian Wildlife Service needs significant new resources to take full advantage of these underutilized tools to established protected areas. A straightforward starting point for these efforts is to provide legal protection to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) where appropriate. Third, there is a tremendous opportunity to work with indigenous governments and communities to establish new protected areas as part of the negotiations relating to the nation-to-nation process that the federal government is committed to. The link to Nature Canada’s brief to the Environment Committee can be found here.

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Protecting the North Arm of the Great Slave Lake
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Protecting the North Arm of the Great Slave Lake

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption] In the Northwest Territories, just bordering Yellowknife, lies Dinàgà Wek’èhodì (dee-na-ga wek-a-ho-dee) – a northern pocket in the North Arm of the Great Slave Lake. The 790 square kilometre region is an IBA-designated, international hot-spot for migrating birds, with the springtime seeing thousands of flocks staged here (and a respectable number of avian residents in the fall, too). In 1990, over 100,000 birds from 29 different species were recorded in the North Arm. Birds that take post here include several goose species – ranging from the Tundra Swan to the Canada Goose – as well as the vulnerable Rusty Blackbird, the quirky-looking Surf Scoter, and the Northern Pintail. All of these birds rely on a steady flow of water to maintain favourable conditions in their habitat. The surrounding region is also very duck-friendly; the forests provide an ideal space for the reproduction of Boreal Ducks. There is currently a movement under the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy to protect this branch of the Great Slave Lake. Doing so will help preserve its vital capacity to sustain thousands of migratory birds each year, and will help keep its waters clean from environmental pollutants. Several First Nations representatives are involved with the project, as well as stakeholder-organizations and sponsors from the environmental and cultural realms. Since the Dinàgà Wek’èhodì region is culturally significant to both the Dene and Métis communities – who have traditionally utilized the area for activities such as hunting and fishing – the input of these representatives will be imperative.Red Winged Blackbird Although there are no imminent threats to the bird-friendly ecosystem of Dinàgà Wek’èhodì, recreational boating activities and pollution have been cited as disturbances that need to be kept in-check. We must also think about what it happening further downstream – the mother-lake that this north pocket belongs to has been matched against the ongoing threat of dam construction around its Upper Slave River pocket (a.k.a. the Peace River). As a result of this activity, the Great Slave Lake has seen a reduction in its water levels. What does this mean for the migratory bird paradise intact upstream? It is currently unknown what impact this will have on these birds and their habitats, but speculative probability assessments have been wary of the impending development projects. Nature Canada is raising our voice to have this area, as well as 6 others, listed as a protected area and you can help!

[button link="http://e-activist.com/ea-campaign/action.retrievestaticpage.do?ea_static_page_id=4826" size="medium" target="_self" color="blue" lightbox="false"]Take Action and Save Wilderness Now[/button]

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