Article about PFRA community pastures by Laura Stewart

Posted by on 12. July 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Article about PFRA community pastures by Laura Stewart

Saskatchewan singer, song-writer and author Laura Stewart wrote a passionate and reflective article about the PFRA community pastures for the latest edition of Briarpatch magazine. A few of my images were used to illustrate the story. Here are a few excerpts from the article titled A voice for the grasslands: The struggle for an endangered prairie ecosystem.

“My first such assignment (.. survey of plant species..) in a PFRA pasture was 15 years ago. So powerful and overwhelming was that meeting with vastness and vibrant prairie life that the sensations come back to me at once….”


“I found my second site in a low flat plain dotted with sparse grass and greasewood. Native grassland varies tremendously within itself across different landscape features and along climatic gradients such as that found from Saskatchewan’s dry southwest to the forest fringe. The 62 PFRA pastures in the province are beautifully distributed to capture this variation. They offer a wide range of habitat conditions and provide reserves of locally adapted wild pollinators and beneficial predators to spread into surrounding cropland….”


“When I finished in the greasewood flat, it was growing dusk. The next morning, I followed a trail – just two wheel tracks in the grass – deep into upland prairie. Soon I was out of sight of any road or building; only the trails and the oil wells and the stakes for one more drilling site interrupted the sweep of grass and sky. This was the heart of the community pasture, one of the last large remnants of native prairie in this country. You might imagine it as empty, but that’s not how it feels: instead it feels huge, and present. Drifts of wildflowers claim patches of suitable soil; more subtle shadings of grasses and shrubs whisper the histories of slope and moisture, of snowdrifts and bison trails. Birds sing from stones or from unsteady perches atop the taller plant stalks….”


“Prairie land is an endangered eco­system. In Saskatchewan, less than 20 per cent of it remains, and much of that is in small fragments or degraded or both. The PFRA pasture lands are so crucial for the survival of grassland and its inhabitants that they are included in Saskatchewan’s Representative Areas Network, which in turn is part of our commitment to protect natural landscapes under international agreements. This is a global responsibility….”

Sign for the Fairview PFRA community pasture near Fiske, Saskatchewan

Sign for the Fairview PFRA community pasture near Fiske. This pasture will be transferred from federal control to the province of Saskatchewan at the end of 2013.

Crocus prairie at Fairview PFRA community pasture

Crocus prairie at Fairview PFRA community pasture