Posts Tagged "PFRA"

Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Posted by on 6. March 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Illustrated talk: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape?

Join Saskatchewan biologist and environmental photographer Dr. Branimir Gjetvaj on a journey of discovery of our diminishing prairie landscapes. Friday, March 28, 2014 at 7 p.m. Royal Saskatchewan Museum 2445 Albert Street in Regina Temperate grasslands are one of the most altered and modified landscapes in the world. Human land-use, including intensive agricultural production and urban development are the leading cause of habitat loss in North America. In Saskatchewan, as in all of North America, 80% of the original grasslands have been converted to crop production and other uses. Degradation and conversion of native prairie to crop production has caused dramatic decline in biodiversity. Approximately 57 grassland wildlife species are currently considered at risk in North America, 28 of which are grassland birds. Current economic forces and government policies are driving an accelerated conversion of grasslands to cropland. Comparable grassland conversion rates have not been seen on the Northern Plains since the 1920s and 1930s, an era that preceded one of the largest ecological disasters in North American history. The expansion of industrial agriculture and continued loss of native grasslands is concerning, especially for its impact on local wildlife and native plant communities, soil conservation, people and social structure of rural communities. In this beautifully illustrated presentation, I will talk about the environmental and social costs of land use change, and the potential impact of habitat loss for prairie species at risk. The presentation is open to general public and admission is free. A reception and refreshments will follow the presentation. Many thanks to the Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for their support in holding the event. If you have a question about this presentation, give me a call at 306-382-2642 or cell 306-220-5703. My contact e-mail address is branimir [at] shaw.ca     This event takes place ahead of the Public Pastures – Public Interest Annual General Meeting on Saturday, March 29, 2014. (1:00 – 4:30 p.m. at the United Way Building, 1440 Scarth Street, Regina)...

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Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Posted by on 11. February 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Future of native grasslands in doubt – interview with Trevor Herriot

Radio Canada International has posted an interview with the naturalist and Saskatchewan writer Trevor Herriot about the uncertain future of the native prairie grasslands found on former PFRA community pastures. One of my images of a stallion running through a prairie with sage brush was used as a page opener for the story posted on RCI web site.   During the interview, Trevor spoke eloquently about the state of native prairie in Saskatchewan and all the wildlife that depends on the remaining large tracts of grasslands found on the former Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) community pastures. He also stressed the importance of a well-functioning pasture system for the small and medium-sized ranching operations and communities in rural Saskatchewan.  At the later part of the interview, Trevor advanced the idea of establishing a heritage rangeland on a set of three PFRA pastures in the extreme south-west corner of Saskatchewan. The tree pastures in question; Govenlock, Nashlyn and Battle Creek cover over 840 square kilometres of vast open prairie. This set of community pastures has been recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an Important Bird Area for it’s significance to local and migrating bird populations. There is also a very important human heritage element at play – the great North American writer and naturalist Wallace Stegner’s family  homestead was located within the Battle Creek PFRA pasture. One of (many) Wallace Stegner’s legacies is a 2400 word letter that he wrote shortly after returning from a visit to southern Saskatchewan where he worked on the Wolf Willow, a childhood autobiography and a breathtaking account of life on the unbroken prairie of southwest Saskatchewan. The Wilderness Letter as it is now known, had an enormous influence in the movement to pass The Wilderness Act of 1964, a federal legislation that created the legal definition of wilderness in the USA. The Act created a formal mechanism to designate and protect millions of acres of wilderness on federal land in the USA. Unfortunately for Canadians, a similar legislation does not exist in our country. You can listen to the full 10 minute interview by clicking on the “Listen” button at the Radio Canada International web site. About the image: it was getting dark late in the day so I set the sensitivity to ISO 640, to alow for a slightly faster shutter speed. I panned the camera and followed the movement of the horse; that is why the sagebrush is slightly blurred. I selectively sharpened the horse a bit, to make it stand out from the surrounding...

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Saskatchewan grasslands in peril – an illustrated talk

Posted by on 24. January 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Saskatchewan grasslands in peril – an illustrated talk

Saskatchewan grasslands in peril – an illustrated talk

If you happen to be in Saskatoon today, come down to the Public Library – I will be presenting an illustrated talk titled: Saskatchewan Grasslands – a Vanishing Landscape? Friday, January 24, 2014 at 2 pm Frances Morrison Public Library in Saskatoon, 311 – 23rd Street East     This event is open to the general public and I will be happy to see you in the crowd. Here is the official promo piece: Temperate grasslands are one of the most altered and modified landscapes in the world. In North America, 80% of the grasslands have been converted (only ~20% remain). Recent estimates show that only 19% to 20% of the original native prairie still remain in Saskatchewan. Recent economic and social trends in the Prairie Provinces are driving a change in the type of land use, with industrial agriculture and development negatively impacting the remaining prairie habitat. The expanding market for grain and oilseed crops might lead to further conversion of native prairie and semi-natural rangeland into a more intensively managed lands destined for food and biofuel crop production. This process of land-use change is predominantly driven by the system of agricultural subsidies, a strong demand for food and biofuel products, and advances in farming technology. Join Saskatoon photographer Dr. Branimir Gjetvaj on a journey of discovery of our prairie landscapes in...

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Sunset in Frenchman River Valley, Val Marie PFRA pasture

Posted by on 20. January 2014 in Saskatchewan | 2 comments

Sunset in Frenchman River Valley, Val Marie PFRA pasture

Sunset over prairie in Frenchman River Valley at Val Marie PFRA community pasture, Saskatchewan. Val Marie PFRA is the largest community pasture in Saskatchewan, containing over 41,256 hectares (101,946 acres) of magnificent native prairie. Frenchman River flows through the pasture, with rugged valley slopes adding to it’s photographic appeal.   Return to the Saskatchewan photo gallery....

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A tribute to the cowboys on PFRA community pastures

Posted by on 21. November 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, Ranching | 3 comments

A tribute to the cowboys on PFRA community pastures

This photo essay is a tribute to the life of cowboys serving as managers and riders on the PFRA community pastures. A tribute to the hard-working people who have been looking after the federal community pastures in Prairie Provinces for over 75 years. Last October I visited the Wolverine Community Pasture north-east of Lanigan, one of the first five PFRA pastures to be transferred from federal control to the province of Saskatchewan. In turn, the pastures will be leased out to the current pasture users. The pasture patrons will pay a fee for the right to graze their herds on the public pastures, and get their cows bred by resident bulls. Each fall, PFRA pasture managers work with hired riders to sort out cattle for delivery to patrons at the end of the grazing season. These men (and sometimes women) manage the cattle according to a well-established grazing system, making sure that the cattle under their care are safe, healthy and well taken care off. These federal cowboys are crucial in maintaining a proper management of the pastures, for the benefit of pasture users as well as plants and animals that rely on a healthy prairie ecosystem. They make sure that the grazing resource is manager effectively, sustainably and not degraded from over-use. A healthy and well-managed pasture is also crucial for all the creatures and species at risk that rely and depend on these large tracts of native prairie that we still have left in the province. With a photography trip to the Wolverine pasture, my goal was to document the cowboy life, part of our cultural heritage and the tradition that is slowly disappearing from the western grasslands. Grasslands that are under constant threat from encroaching industrial and agricultural development. To ensure that these cowboys continue playing a role in a sustainable management of our community pastures, both federal and provincial governments have to invest enough funds to allow for smooth transition from federal to provincial oversight. We do not need to dedicate new money for this purpose – sufficient funds will be available from the patron user fees and oil and gas revenues coming from some the pastures. We need to keep sustainable management of the 1.8 million acres of former PFRA community pastures to support small to medium-sized cattle producers in rural Saskatchewan, while protecting prairie plant and animal species living on the rapidly shrinking natural prairie habitat we have left in Canada. On Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 pm Dr. Joe Schmutz from the University of Saskatchewan will give a presentation titled “Community Pastures: Why do grass and birds need cowboys?” Details after the link. If you would like to hear about the history of PFRA community pastures and learn about the importance of the contribution of our cowboys to sustaining the healthy prairie habitat and critters that rely on it, come to this free public presentation. If you wish to read more about the PFRA community pasture managers & riders and their contribution to the communities that rely on their work, check out the feature articles published in the Western Producer and Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine, or this blog post by a Saskatchewan writer Trevor Herriot. Cowboys sort cattle at Wolverine community pasture, Lanigan ‘Paws & boots’ at Wolverine PFRA community pasture, Lanigan...

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