Sunday, 14 April 2013

Why is Ottawa abandoning swaths of prairie grassland? 

 Trevor Herriot is the author of the award-winning River in a Dry Land and more recent Jacob's Wound - A Search for the Spirit of Wildness.  A self-taught naturalist, and a Catholic who has recently returned to the Church, Herriot has lived most of his life in Saskatchewan.

In this special to the Globe and Mail, he writes about the federal government's decision to close the 77 year old Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Agency.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

The PFRA story is about land, big pieces of it. We call them pastures, but this isn’t your uncle’s weed-filled back forty. The Val Marie pasture spans 100,000 acres and is just one of 62 the PFRA manages in Saskatchewan, along with 22 in Manitoba and one in Alberta.

The vast majority of all that acreage is native grass, the ancient buffalo prairie that has never felt the plow. Failed farms account for just 20 per cent.

As rare and ecologically important as coastal old-growth forest, the PFRA grasslands are listed by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as lands that Canada has made a commitment to protect.

The federal government abandoned that commitment when it discontinued the PFRA.

No policy study, no rationale; in fact, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz did not even bother to trot out the usual austerity arguments. He simply announced that the program had done its work, and could stand down. “The pastures are now well-established in the Prairies,” he explained in a news release last April 18. “This change will create a great opportunity for provinces, stakeholders or those who use the land to take over pasture management.”

You can read the entire article by clicking this link. 

- Mike M drew our attention to this article during today's Just Living meeting.


  1. The full article is well worth reading; it's definitely alarming, but crucial discussions are happening in some locations amongst various parties, including First Nations communities.

  2. Sorry. I forget that we're supposed to say who we are (selecting "anonymous" always confuses me!). This comment and the previous one were both by Kathleen V.