Abandoned Community Pastures At Risk #cdnpoli #skpoli

The last remnants of a unique ecosystem on Earth are entering what is potentially their last years of natural existence. This will lead to the extinctions of some plants and animals that exist only on the Canadian prairies. Extinctions destabilize an ecosystem, and it’s an ecosystem where humans cannot be assured of long-term survival if it becomes destabilized.

The Conservatives removed protection for the community pastures in an apparent effort to privatize the land. The Sask Party, instead of putting the land under provincial management, has opted to sell off the land, following in the Conservative Party’s wishes. This is against the interest of Canadians, and of most of the ranchers and farmers who’ve used the pasture land over the decades they’ve been in the public trust.

Trevor Harriot in the Globe and Mail:

As for the program having achieved its goals [according to Ritz], the need for soil conservation and managing ecosystems in the public interest does not simply go away.

Press release sent my way today:

For Immediate Release:

April 17, 2013

Public Pastures – Public Interest

Uniting to Save Saskatchewan’s Community Pastures

Joint Venture Video Release

In April of 2012 the federal government announced it was divesting itself of 2.3 million acres of PFRA community pastures, 1.78 million of which are located in Saskatchewan. The control for these pastures has now reverted back to the prairie provinces and in response the Saskatchewan government has announced they will be seeking to sell or lease these lands to the current pasture patrons. With rising land values putting the purchase of these lands far beyond the reach of most patrons, exceeding their ability to run a financially viable operation, patrons are looking to find an alternative solution. Other stakeholders affected by this decision are looking to ensure a sustainable environmental action plan for the land is continued, safeguarding the continued health of the ecosystem and the 32 species at risk that reside there.

To help communicate this message, the various stakeholders (Patrons, First Nations, Academic and Wildlife/Environmental groups) have been meeting over the past several months to discuss their common concerns and encourage the two levels of government to reconsider their position on the importance of preserving and sustaining our community pastures. The result is a collaborative and inclusive video showcasing stakeholder concerns and their belief that, in order to ensure a positive outcome for all, they must work together to find a viable solution.

It is their hope this video will also help communicate the message to stakeholders not yet involved and encourage them to join the collaborative effort towards protecting out public interests, and maintaining current and long term sustainable management of our Community Pastures.

For more information on this video and the joint initiative please contact any of the following:

* Trevor Herriot, Public Pastures – Public Interest, Regina, trevorherriot@gmail.com , home 306-585-1674
* Senator Roland Crowe – First Nations representative, 306-539-9200
* Joanne Brochu – Patrons representative, jbrochu@sasktel.net , cell 306-255-7602

Deer-Tour Around Saskatchewan

Glentworth, SK

Saturday’s road trip through the mist and fog yielded me the best wildlife photos I’ve ever had the privilege of shooting. Some photos from the earlier part of the trip I posted on Sunday morning.

RM Waverley

Unsafe Water

Glentworth, Saskatchewan

Glentworth, Saskatchewan
-Glentworth, SK

Less than a few kms north of Glentworth, just turning toward the highway headed for Lafleche, we saw two herds on different sides of the road. They waited patiently as the humans in the car took many, many photos.

Glentworth, SK
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Mini Solar Tour in the Fog of Wood Mountain and Glentworth

I went on a road trip Saturday with my friend Adam K., down to my parents’ place, and his grandparents’ farm. On the way around southern Saskatchewan, we saw close to 150 deer and antelope, a snowy owl, a dozen hawks, a handful of Canada Geese, smaller birds, two dead raccoons, and the final resting place of four children who passed away in 1919 (Spanish Flu maybe?).
Ukrainian Catholic Church

To Moose Jaw
The road into Regina was ice, and the road to Moose Jaw was quite a bit better, but still partly covered in a thick layer of ice. There was a semi on the eastbound highway that had done a 180, and blew open its trailer door, strewing boxes across the ditch at Belle Plaine.

We filled up in Moose Jaw, then ate at the Steakhouse in Assiniboia (we had waffles). The GPS kept trying to convince us to turn off the paved road instead of going to Limerick. We went to Limerick, I took a couple photos, and on through flooded Flintof and dry Wood Mountain we continued. Many deer were along the way, and the misting rain continued through the trip after Moose Jaw’s southern hills.
Flintoft turn

Hawk landing
– A hawk about to land

After second lunch we strolled around the various energy and heating systems my parents had installed for their home.
Solar Hot water panel mount

Solar PV

Convincing SaskPower that a generator ring/link was a good idea for a Saskatchewan power meter, took some convincing. Fortunately Dad is persistent.

Wood Mountain elevator

Ukrainian Catholic Church
– 1925 built Ukrainian Catholic near Glentworth, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church

More photos next time of the animals who made this print:
Deer tracks

In Their Shell

The Duck and Cover propaganda has worked maybe. There’s an entire generation prone to thinking they can protect themselves from massive danger by covering their head with their arms until they feel safe again.

Here’s Percy, a climate change denier, responding to Purple Library Guy’s comment in 2011 about ocean acidification.

PLG: “researchers have found using tanks with sea water only acidified to levels we’re predicted to reach in 20 years or so if current emission trends continue,”

Percy: Predicted by secretive computer models which fail to predict the past. I think it’s time for everyone to panic. I’ll tell you what. Let’s not worry about this impending doom which we are facing and, in twenty years, you can tell me that you told me so. Get a grip. The sky is not falling, Chicken Little. The apocalypse is not nigh. I’ve lived long enough to have heard a great deal of caterwauling about one crisis or another and I know enough about politics to recognize that this is just the latest attempt at a power grab.

Here’s a news report. Ask a clam digger.

Ocean acidification, as scientists call this pickling of the seas, is, like climate change, a result of the enormous amount of carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere. Oceans have absorbed about a quarter of that output, and ocean chemistry has changed as a result. Surface water pH has long been an alkaline 8.2, not far from the pH of baking soda, but it now averages about 8.1. That doesn’t look like much, but since pH is a logarithmic scale, that means a 30 percent increase in the acidity.

The industry finally pulled out of its tailspin in 2010, when NOAA scientists determined that what was killing the oyster larvae was corrosive water that entered the hatchery at certain times of the year — usually in summer, and specifically on days when winds from the northwest caused upwelling of deeper water, which is more acidic than surface water. With federal money, hatcheries were able to install sophisticated pH monitors and CO2 monitors. When waters are becoming too corrosive, hatchery operators can now close off the seawater intake, and, Dewey says, “pray that the winds change soon.”

Here’s what’s important to remember also:

Unlike other problems caused by CO2, ocean acidification is spurring some action, possibly because the effects are so visibly tied to the cause. “With climate change there’s often a schism between scientists and those who flat out don’t want to believe it,” says Green. “It’s hard to get a man to believe something if his job depends on not believing it.”But in this case, he says, it’s the people in the industry who are leading awareness. “Talk to shellfish clammers — the guys who dig — and every one of them is on board, especially the old timers. They have seen over the years the populations go from incredibly productive to virtually disappearing in many cases.” One bit of anecdotal evidence diggers have reported is clams with thinner shells — so thin, they say, that sometimes it’s not possible to fill bushel baskets to the top because the fragile shells at the bottom will be crushed.

(emphasis added)

ReThink Meat

Meat fraud is taking place all around us. Most people probably can’t tell the difference between similar looking meats sold in stores, were it not for the labeling.

Fish fraud is apparently common in the USA.

Safeway recalled big and juicy E.coli burgers. “Must be cooked” is right on the box, and they weren’t kidding, were they?

I’m not above eating horse meat. I’ve never done it, however. At least, I don’t think I have. Many French and Italians didn’t have a choice if they bought from a mega-meat distributor who decided for them.

What all this brings to our attention, is how vital it is to cut down on overall meat consumption. You don’t have to eliminate meat from your diet to make a huge difference. Have it at half as many meals as you typically do today if you’ve not made a previous effort to cut back.

“Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity.”

Over consumption of meat, leading to higher than optimal demand in the food supply chain, leads to suffering in even rich countries:

Suzanne Salami, a single mother of three, subsists on just £30 a week and is angered by the way the horsemeat scandal is hitting the poorest hardest. “When you can’t afford to buy anything to eat, [or] ask where meat comes from and if it’s sustainable, it is not fair,” she said. “I am being made to eat stuff I don’t know about and I am being let down. It’s like we’re being told to eat and shut up.” She was particularly worried about the potential health impacts of traces of equine painkillers found in horsemeat in the food chain by the Food Standards Agency this week.

When I buy meat, I prefer it come from a source I know, such as a farmer near Wood Mountain or Ormiston; if I’m in the city, then a local meat shop like Fellinger’s. I’ll still take chances and buy meat from elsewhere, but I don’t feel comfortable with doing that.

Russian Dash-cameras

The meteor strike last week made more people realize the prevalence of dash-cams in Russia. I’d seen shocking vehicle footage on YouTube before, one of a brick flying from a truck and killing a passenger in a car going the other way. The Guardian put together an assortment of unusual vehicle incident videos. The one of the car being hung up on the street car wire is particularly unusual, as are the two with jets. Unfortunately one with a jet, is a crash, where four on the plane died. I’d be more than a little terrified if a hail of debris suddenly washed over the highway in front of me (with a wheel hitting the car in front too).

Winter in Saskatchewan

When it’s too cold to explain, photos will have to do.
Wood Mountain December Sunset

Christmas Tree

Deer at Wood Mountain

Sundog at Lakenheath, SK

I don’t go to church anymore, and didn’t want to long before I stopped going. This year I was invited to two different Christmas church services, and ended up going to neither. When I do go, it’s out of respect for my family’s traditions, and end up socializing with people I would otherwise not see day-to-day. Most of the time I cannot bring myself to support what I feel is such a waste of time, money, and effort to support religious institutions that do far less good than they promise and would have us believe they do.

The new Nigerian priest for the part of southern Sask. where my parents live, became lost when trying to drive to church in Glentworth on Sunday. He wound up in a town about 30 minutes away, then called for directions and arrived about an hour late. There was a fresh coat of snow everywhere, the road included, so it must have been a bit of an ordeal to go from +30 to -20 in the span of a month, and become lost where the closest farmyard can be 15km from any given point on the road. He was oriented for Christmas Eve evening service at least. The roads have not been kind to priests in the past year; Father Carrigan, a priest that served Wood Mountain and Lafleche, passed away from a highway collision.

Conservatives Abandon Community Pasture Protection

If the Conservatives removed protection on all fish in the ocean, do you think there’d be an outcry of concern? What if they allowed every old tree to be cut down, because we could just plant new ones by hand? Arrogance is the assumption that humans have figured out how to do everything by hand better than nature does without even trying.

There’s an open forum in Regina today (Friday), to help people connect with others who are concerned about the privatization of previously protected public pasture prairie.

You should be concerned about it too, whether you live in SK, or in Toronto, or St. John’s. Like the state of the fisheries and oceans is a concern to the people of the prairies, so too is the state of the grasslands to all other Canadians. Without some of the natural prairies left for future people to preserve from development, we’ll have snuffed out a biologically diverse and important habitat, and ruined the economy for untold scores of people yet to come.

It was costing us only $8M to get $58M worth of benefits from the protected community pastures managed by PFRA. “A darn good deal” – Candace Savage, author on the plains.

The province for now holds the land, poised to sell it at “market” rates. How can the market reflect the irreplaceable value of land and wetlands unmodified by human plows? Simply, it will not, and history will not judge our mistaken removal of protection kindly.

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