Swift Current, SK – Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) and Parks Canada’s Grasslands National Park (GNP) are teaming up to collaborate on a unique grass bank pilot project to conserve habitat for species at risk, particularly the Greater Sage-grouse, Sprague’s Pipit, and Chestnut-collared Longspur.
“This project is noteworthy because Parks Canada is using cattle to help manage the park,” said SSGA President Shane Jahnke. “This project demonstrates the important benefits of cattle grazing for the environment.”
Grasslands National Park is playing an active role in implementing recovery and conservation for the Greater Sage-grouse in the East Block of the Park by restoring grazing on a landscape where it was excluded for more than 20 years.
“National parks play an important role in contributing to the recovery of species at risk. By combining our conservation efforts in Grasslands National Park with those of local ranchers, we can influence and expand suitable habitat on a scale that would not be possible by any one party working in isolation,” stated Adriana Bacheschi, Acting Field Unit Superintendent, South Saskatchewan Field Unit.
The project area covers 40,000 acres of public and private land, much of which is considered critical habitat for Greater Sage-grouse, Sprague’s Pipits, and Chestnut-collared Longspurs. Local ranchers will manage grazing on portions of the East Block of GNP and their adjacent private land with a goal of achieving habitat targets for the three species. Habitat targets are set and measured by the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program. Ranchers benefit from the program when they meet the habitat targets through a reduced grazing fee on GNP land, and through a financial incentive from SSGA through the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agriculture Land (SARPAL) program. The project is being undertaken with financial support of Environment and Climate Change Canada through the SARPAL fund.
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