Nature Canada

Grasslands Lobby Swaying Ottawa

Image of Stephen Hazell

Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel

Nature Canada teamed up with Saskatchewan-based nature groups in Ottawa last week to lobby for a pause in the transfer of important grasslands to the Saskatchewan government. Nature Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, Public Pastures Public Interest, and CPAWS Saskatchewan are all arguing that the 27 remaining federal managed community pastures in Saskatchewan should not be transferred until a nature protection plan is in place (the Saskatchewan government has stated that, once transferred, these lands would be sold off subject only to a “no-break, no-drain” conservation easement).

Federal management of these prairie grasslands has meant stronger protection for threatened and endangered species, conservation of soil and water, and continued sequestration of greenhouse gases. The previous federal government wrongly decided in 2012 to eliminate the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) and transfer one million hectares of grasslands without any plan to protect species at risk or ensure sustainable ranching.

From left to right: Stephen Hazell, Rick Ashton, Trevor Herriot, and Gord Vaadeland.

From left to right: Stephen Hazell, Rick Ashton, Trevor Herriot, and Gord Vaadeland.

Based on our meetings with advisors to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and senior civil servants, it seems that the new Liberal government is at least listening. Any pause on transfers of these federally managed grasslands should be part of a strategy to conserve native grasslands across the prairies by supporting positive stewardship practices by ranchers and nature groups on private lands as well as establishing protected areas such as National Wildlife Areas.

Grasslands are one of the most imperiled ecosystems in Canada. PFRA grasslands include almost all the best remnants of mixed-grass prairie in Canada, providing critical habitat for at least 31 species at risk such as: Greater Sage Grouse, Burrowing Owl, Swift Fox, and Ferruginous Hawk. These grasslands also provide an important carbon sink for greenhouse gas emissions.

[button link=”″ size=”medium” target=”_self” color=”orange” lightbox=”false”]You can help protect these grasslands by signing our petition![/button]

As well, you can also learn more about critical grasslands and other wilderness places to save here.

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