“Native grasslands are the most threatened terrestrial ecosystems in Canada. They are the last refuge for 31 species at risk, and an important forage resource for Saskatchewan’s cow-calf sector, explained Ray McDougald SSGF Chair. “We are building on the success of Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands’ first five years to achieve real environmental outcomes―projects that enhance the grasslands and species at risk habitat, and also increase the viability of ranching, enabling a younger generation of ranchers to continue caring for the prairie.”
SSGF General Manager Wayne Hellquist said, “The Weston Family Foundation invited a number of organizations to submit proposals to celebrate, steward and protect Canadian prairie grasslands. Our proposal was selected for including a variety of partners that will ensure a holistic and multi-faceted approach to achieve the maximum impact for our project stakeholders’ efforts.”
“We have an opportunity now to protect the Canadian prairie grasslands for future generations,” said Weston Family Foundation Director Eliza Mitchell. “We’re launching this initiative to bring together a diverse group of conservation and agricultural organizations to accelerate the adoption of sustainable approaches to protect and restore biodiversity in this unique landscape.”
“We established SSGF as a charitable foundation and land trust to conserve agricultural lands, advance education, relieve poverty and assist victims of disasters,” said McDougald. “As the first and only provincial agricultural and conservation organization based in Saskatchewan, and the first to offer term easements, SSGF has a specific focus on conserving lands.” He added, “Partner contributions make this a $7M project. The Foundation will use this funding to fill a growing need in the ranching community for voluntary, private-sector options for agricultural land conservation.”
New generation Saskatchewan cattle rancher Chay Anderson added, “We believe that in the long-run, a successful ranch and healthy grasslands are directly related. Areas with species at risk and grasslands that require rejuvenating require years of management. Engagement with the ranchers and managers of the grasslands is crucial to understanding the local animal habits and tendencies to create an accurate plan for protecting the species that play critical roles in a healthy ecosystem.”
About the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative: The Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative is a five-year collaboration to celebrate, steward and protect one of Canada’s most ecologically valuable and threatened ecosystems. Nearly $25M has been committed by the Weston Family Foundation to five organizations to accelerate the implementation of sustainable practices and achieve landscape-level impact: Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation, Grasslands National Park (Parks Canada), and Meewasin Valley Authority. Each organization brings additional funding and in-kind donations for a total of $70M going toward this collaboration over the next five years. The Initiative aims to improve species-at-risk habitat, enable wildlife movement, expand the amount of land protection in the prairies, and ultimately increase long-term ecological and economic stability. Dozens of partners will support this work that will affect nearly four million acres of priority native grasslands in one of the largest prairie grasslands conservation efforts in Canadian history. More information about the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative can be found at westonfoundation.ca.
About SSGF’s project: The primary focus is to sign conservation agreements and/or term easements with livestock producers who own and/or manage native grasslands, including critical habitat for species at risk in southwestern Saskatchewan. Based on the achievements of Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) and Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association programming over the last five years, the goal is to have 350,000 acres of native grasslands and critical habitat for species at risk under robust, long-term conservation agreements and/or term conservation easements within five years.
Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association launched SSGF in January 2020 as a charitable foundation and land trust to conserve agricultural lands, advance education, relieve poverty and assist victims of disasters. It has been established to fill a growing need in the ranching community for voluntary, private-sector options for agricultural land conservation. It is the first and only provincial agricultural and conservation organization based in Saskatchewan and is the first to offer term easements. It also has a specific focus on conserving agricultural lands.
For more information contact:
SK Stock Growers Foundation