Stock Grow­ers launch grass bank pi­lot project at Grass­lands

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SOUTH­WEST

The Saskatchewan Stock Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and Parks Canada - Grass­lands Na­tional Park are team­ing to part­ner on a unique habi­tat pre­serv­ing grass bank pi­lot project.

The project, an­nounced at last month’s Saskatchewan Stock Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion AGM in Swift Cur­rent, will uti­lize graz­ing man­age­ment prac­tices to help pre­serve habi­tat for species at risk in­clud­ing the Greater Sage-grouse, Sprague’s Pipit, and Chest­nut-col­lared Longspur.

“What will be hap­pen­ing is that the lo­cal ranch­ers who man­age graz­ing on parts of the East Block of the Grass­lands Na­tional Park, and their ad­ja­cent pri­vate land. The graz­ing will be man­aged to meet cer­tain habi­tat tar­gets for each of the three species,” ex­plained then SSGA Pres­i­dent Shane Jahnke.

“The Stock Grow­ers are ex­cited to be part of this project as it pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ranch­ers, Parks and sci­en­tists to help species re­cover and to ac­tu­ally mea­sure the con­ser­va­tion ben­e­fits.”

“The Stock Grow­ers are ex­cited to be part of this project as it pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ranch­ers, Parks and sci­en­tists to help species re­cover and to ac­tu­ally mea­sure the con­ser­va­tion ben­e­fits.”

“This pro­gram brings to­gether pro­duc­ers knowl­edge of ef­fec­tive graz­ing prac­tices with ap­plied science and re­search to reach spe­cific habi­tat tar­gets. This project demon­strates im­por­tant ben­e­fits of cat­tle graz­ing for the environment.”

He noted that a lot of time and ef­fort went into mak­ing this pi­lot project a re­al­ity. Grass­lands Na­tional Park is play­ing an ac­tive roll in im­ple­ment­ing re­cov­ery and con­ser­va­tion of the Greater Sage-grouse in East Block. Environment and Cli­mate Change Canada is pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port for the project through the Species at Risk Part­ner­ship on Agri­cul­ture Land (SARPAL) pro­gram.

Jahnke thanked SSGA pro­duc­ers for tak­ing part in the project.

“You’re not just achiev­ing con­ser­va­tion and environment goals, but you are also show­ing the rest of the world how cat­tle can be used to pro­tect species at risk, and have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the health and sus­tain­abil­ity of our ecosys­tem.”

Adriana Bach­eschi, Act­ing Field Unit Su­per­in­ten­dent, South Saskatchewan Field Unit, also noted that there was a lot of in­volve­ment in the project to get it off the ground and work­ing.

“I think it’s a great ini­tia­tive,” Bach­eschi said. “It is about govern­ment work­ing with ranch­ers, work­ing with sci­en­tists, work­ing with non-govern­ment as­so­ci­a­tions to make things hap­pen, and work­ing to­gether as op­posed to apart.”

“I’m work­ing with landown­ers that have land within the fu­ture bound­aries of the park, and we’re tak­ing care of the land to­gether.”

She high­lighted that the pi­lot project was im­por­tant for one sig­nif­i­cant rea­son.

“It’s about the fact that it re­ally show­cases what graz­ing and what ranch­ers do in terms of pro­tec­tion of the environment.”

“The only rea­son we have a Grass­lands Na­tional Park and this land­scape to­day is be­cause of the ranch­ing in­dus­try. It’s be­cause of the guys who were there. It’s be­cause the land wasn’t plowed. It’s be­cause of the con­ser­va­tion that you guys did.”

Habi­tat tar­gets in the project area, which cov­ers 40,000 acres of pub­lic and pri­vate land on por­tions of the East Block of Grass­lands Na­tional Park, are be­ing set and mea­sured by the South of the Di­vide Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion Pro­gram. And be­cause the ranch­ers will be mak­ing con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment ef­forts on both park land and their own prop­erty, the con­ser­va­tion ef­forts for the habi­tat is more than the park or the ranch­ers could achieve on their own.

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