Monday, 27 November 2017 04:55

Species at risk workshops for agriculture producers to take place in southwest Sask.

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The long-billed curlew is on the list. The long-billed curlew is on the list. Photo contributed

Simply Agriculture Solutions will be hosting four workshops in southwest Saskatchewan in the first half of December for producers who want to learn about species at risk on their land.

The free workshops are presented as part of the Saskatchewan Species at Risk Farm Program. Simply Agriculture Solutions (previously known as the Provincial Council of Agriculture Development and Diversification Boards for Saskatchewan) is receiving federal funding through Environment and Climate Change Canada to deliver this program to agricultural producers across the province.
The development of the program started in 2016 and pilot workshops have already taken place. The workshops are delivered by program representatives who are also producers and therefore familiar with the industry.
Heather Peat Hamm, the coordinator of the Saskatchewan Species at Risk Farm Program, feels positive about the response from producers.
“So far it’s been quite good actually,” she said. “It’s just starting to really get out and about amongst the producers and they're starting to understand what the program is. We’re working throughout the province. We’ve got six program reps around the province and they try to develop connections through their own connections and through previous programs.”
The broad goal of the program is to promote habitat protection on farms in Saskatchewan and to make producers more aware of species at risk. The involvement of producers can make a difference to maintain and preserve prairie biodiversity, and to have more land available that are amenable to species at risk.
“If you look at where species at risk are and their ranges, it covers a lot of agricultural land,” she said. “There are certain species that are quite amenable to operating on tame pasture. They can nest on tame pasture or breed on tame pasture, they may often then go out and hunt in crop land or riparian areas like wetlands. So even if you don’t have exactly the perfect landscape, they’re still on agricultural lands.”
Fourteen species have been identified as target species in the Saskatchewan Species at Risk Farm Program. Most of the species on the list are birds – the burrowing owl (endangered), chestnut-collared longspur (threatened), common nighthawk (threatened), ferruginous hawk (threatened), greater sage grouse (endangered), loggerhead shrike (endangered), long-billed curlew (special concern), McCown's longspur (threatened), piping plover (endangered), short-eared owl (special concern), and Sprague's pipit (threatened).
The other species are the little brown bat (endangered), swift fox (threatened), and northern leopard frog (special concern).
The intention of the workshops are to provide producers with information about the different species at risk to help them decide on which species to focus their attention. Some practices in support of one species might be detrimental to others, for example the installation of nesting platforms for the ferruginous hawk can be detrimental to other grassland bird species that are hunted by this large raptor.
“So you have to be cautious about which species you want to support,” she said. “That’s what the guidance is for with the program reps and the workshops because it is very complex, but most people will pick a few that they can support through a particular practice.”
Maggi Tetreau is a program representative for the Saskatchewan Species at Risk Farm Program. She will present the four upcoming workshops in southwest Saskatchewan.
“They’re fun for me to put on, because I’m pretty passionate about grassland conservation and being a producer myself, I think it’s something that we can do,” she said. “Any way that we can support species at risk I think is a good thing because then some day down the line maybe they will get downgraded and they don’t need any special protections anymore. That’s the goal to remove them from that list.”
The first part of the workshop will provide producers with information about the species at risk and their habitat requirements, and there will be a discussion of the different practices that can have an impact on these species. Workshop participants will receive a workbook that they can use as a handy reference guide in the future.
“So six months or however long from now, when they are maybe thinking about a species, they can go back and look up that species and see what types of habitat it needs and what different management practices might benefit that species,” she said.
Workshop participants will have an opportunity to look at aerial images of their land, and they will receive guidance to complete a farm/ranch self-assessment and to develop a species at risk farm action plan with beneficial management practices.
“The producers that attend are actually going to work through their own farm or ranch, and determine what types of habitat they currently have, what types of management practices they currently use, how many acres of different types of habitat that might support any given species of risk,” she mentioned. “We’re encouraging them to really look inward at their own place to see what they have, and we have access to the [Saskatchewan] Conservation Data Centre. So we can actually log in individually with a producer and look at their land and see if any species have been found in and around their land.”
The information provided at these workshops will enable producers to create their own species at risk action plans.
Producers who decide to develop their own plans are eligible to apply for species at risk stewardship program funding after their action plans have been certified. This funding will cover 100 per cent of the costs to implement management practices in a species at risk action plan. All information provided by producers will be treated as confidential by the program representatives.
A minimum of five participants are required for these workshops, but there cannot be more than 10 participants. The workshops are free and lunch is provided. Each workshop takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and pre-registration is requested. The dates and locations for the four upcoming workshops are below:
Rockglen – Dec. 7, New Horizons Drop-in Centre, 1016 Centre Street, pre-registration by Dec. 4.
Shaunavon – Dec. 11, community room in Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre, 440 Centre Street, pre-registration by Dec. 6.
Consul – Dec. 12, community hall, pre-registration by Dec. 7.
McCord – Dec. 15, community hall, pre-registration by Dec. 12.
For more information or to register, contact Maggi Tetreau at 306-478-7467 or send an e-mail to maggi. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read 861 times Last modified on Friday, 24 November 2017 09:01
Matthew Liebenberg


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