Several Saskatchewan organizations weighed in on the provincial governments new Southern Conservation Land Management Strategy, and the reviews are good.
Officials from the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF), Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), and the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) all say they’re in favour of the new strategy, which will offer agricultural lessees the opportunity to purchase eligible parcels of Crown land.
All the land was previously designated under the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act (WHPA). It is expected that local farmers and ranchers will be the buyers.
“I am pleased to support the amended refinements to the WHPA, which provide real and enforceable transparency in identifying saleable lands from within WHPA, while also affording the conservation community the opportunity to identify other suitable Crown lands for inclusion under WHPA protection,” SWF president David Pezderic said.
Most of the 1.3 million acres of land that is available has moderate ecological value. As such, it can only be sold under the conservation easement system, which doesn’t allow certain developments, such as cultivation, that could compromise the land’s status and ecological value.
Both SARM and SSGA say they support this approach, and feel local farmers and ranchers are more than capable of maintaining what they purchase.
“We believe Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers have proven themselves to be good custodians of the conservation lands they are managing on behalf of the province,” SARM president David Marit said. “This will ensure they continue to be properly managed.”
“Saskatchewan’s ranchers have demonstrated their dedication to preserving our natural grasslands,” SSGA president Harold Martens agreed. “Without their stewardship much of the land included in today’s announcement would not have remained suitable wildlife habitat until today.”
All three said they were pleased with the process and consultation that took place before the decision was made.
The government has said it will notify lessees by mail about their options and sale processes, as well as land classifications. Vacant crown land considered to be of high ecological value will not be sold.
The government also said seven per cent of the sale proceeds will go to the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund.
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
“I am pleased to support the amended refinements to the WHPA, which provide real and enforceable transparency in identifying saleable lands from within WHPA while also affording the conservation community the opportunity to identify other suitable Crown lands for inclusion under WHPA protection. The co-operative approach by the ministries of Environment and Agriculture through Minister Cheveldayoff and Minister Stewart and their respective staffs is noteworthy and provides a sound example of how government can work with its stakeholders when it comes to protecting our natural resources”, says David Pezderic, President of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
“We support the Ministry’s actions on this issue as these changes will balance the needs of stakeholders interested in purchasing lands with that of protecting ecological land values,” said President David Marit. “We believe Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers have proven themselves to be good custodians of the conservation lands they are managing on behalf of the Province and this will ensure they continue to be properly managed.”