The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association President Harold Martens, hailed today’s announcement of the Southern Crown Land Management Strategy as “an example of the tremendous benefits that can be achieved when agricultural producers, conservationists and government work as partners.”
“Today’s announcement gives agricultural producers the ability to purchase approximately 1.8 million acres of land they have been leasing from the Crown – sometimes for generations,” stated Martens, “ As tenants, these producers lacked the long-term security that comes with land ownership and the capacity to acquire financing to make improvements to their operations.”
“At the same time, amendments to the Conservation Easement Act ensure that the ecological integrity of former lease land is protected,” Martens added.
The majority of the land made available for purchase today, 1.3 million acres, has been identified as moderate ecological value and can only be sold with a conservation easement. Under the easement system, there are prohibitions against cultivation and other developments that might compromise this land’s status as wildlife habitat.
“Our position has always been that for more than a century, Saskatchewan’s ranchers have demonstrated their dedication to preserving our natural grasslands,” stated Martens, “Without their stewardship much of the land included in today’s announcement would not have remained suitable wildlife habitat until today.”
“That being said, the easement system provides the public and conservationists with an added degree of assurance,” said Martens,” Furthermore, 7% of the money generated from land sales will be dedicated to the province’s Fish and Wildlife Development Fund for additional conservation efforts.”
“Today’s announcement was nearly four years in the making,” noted Martens, “It is the result of hard work and cooperation on the part of the agricultural community, our conservation and environmental partners and government. It demonstrates that agricultural activity and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive activities.”
“We are grateful for the efforts of all those who helped make today’s announcement a reality,” concluded Martens, “In particular, I want to thank Ministers Cheveldayoff and Stewart for their leadership, the staff at the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment for their dedication and our conservation partners for their cooperation.”