Serving the producers of the Northwest
FARMER North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Thursday, April 16, 2020
USask drinking water study shows beef cattle can tolerate high levels of sulphates Submitted Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have published a study that shows beef cattle can tolerate higher concentrations of sulphates in drinking water than previously believed. “There are clear and significant implications for healthy animals from the research,” said Dr. Greg Penner (PhD), associate professor in the USask Department of Animal and Poultry Science and Centennial Enhancement Chair in Ruminant Nutritional Physiology. National and provincial recommendations for suitable or safe levels of sulphates in drinking water range from 1,000 to 2,500 milligrams (mg) of sulphates per litre of water. But these recommendations are not science-based, something Penner and his collaborators set out to change. According to the team’s research pub-
lished this month in Applied Animal Science, beef cattle can tolerate up to 3,000 mg of added sulphates per litre of water. During the project, the cattle drank water with 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 mg of added sulphates per litre of water to mimic real levels experienced on some Saskatchewan cattle ranches. Regardless of these levels of added sulphates, the cattle continued to drink and eat, resulting in a normal weight gain. At first glance, the research results seem to be good news for Saskatchewan cattle producers who have wells and dugouts containing high levels of sulphates. But Penner is cautious. The problem is that sulphates in water potentially bind with trace minerals in a cow’s rumen, one of four stomachs, making those minerals unavailable for the body to absorb and use. So in addition to mon-
itoring water and feed intake and weight gain, the researchers compared blood analyses at the beginning and the end of the study. The level of copper was lower at the end of the study, potentially affecting a cow’s fertility. “There could be longer-term effects of higher sulphate exposure in terms of reproductive efficiency,” Penner said. “A producer might not see anything negative in terms of growth rate, feed intake and water intake, but those negative impacts may be hiding deeper—higher sulphate concentrations may be affecting trace mineral status, which could affect fertility.” The research was the first to be conducted in the highly specialized metabolism barn at the university’s Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, located south of Clavet, Sask. While Penner led the study, he worked closely with collaborators from
Dr. Greg Penner (PhD) is the associate professor in the USask Department of Animal and Poultry Science and Centennial Enhancement Chair in Ruminant Nutritional Physiology. Photo courtesy of University of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture—Leah Clark, the province’s livestock specialist, and Colby Elford, a livestock and feed extension specialist. University student researchers Jordan Johnson and Brittney Sutherland also worked on the project. Funding was provided by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and the Canadian Agriculture
Partnership through the Strategic Field Program. The Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory provided water quality analysis as an in-kind contribution. This is the first of a series of studies that Penner will conduct into safe water quality levels for cattle. His next project, which starts in April, is a three-year study in
collaboration with researchers at Texas Tech University, USask’s animal and poultry science department, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s large animal clinical sciences department, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Cattle will receive water with higher sulphate concentrations than were involved in today’s published research, with the expectation that, at some point, cattle will be negatively affected by the sulphates. However, the researchers will also test various ways of interfering with the sulphates binding with trace minerals in the rumen. For instance, bismuth subsalicylate, a commonly found antacid, is known to bind with sulfides. That in turn could diminish the effect of sulphates in water consumed by cattle, minimizing the problem before it starts.
Local Journalism Initiative reports from underserved communities The federal government’s Local Journalism Initiative supports the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada. Funding has been made available to eligible Canadian media organizations to hire journalists or pay freelance journalists to produce civic journalism for underserved communities. The content produced is made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed. In this issue of Farmer Rancher, a sample of agricultural/COVID-19 stories from across Canada is offered up, like the one below. See inside for more of these stories.
‘Goating’ serious about COVID-19 food insecurity By Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Quadra Island Farmers Gerald and Janice Ammundsen want a goat in your backyard as a weapon against food insecurity during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Photo by Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Goats are an overlooked tool in the arsenal for rural, isolated communities to improve their resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a pair of farmers from a remote island in British Columbia. And not in the questionable way medieval doctors advised families to share quarters with smelly billy goats, so the pungent odour would counteract the sickening miasma, or “bad air” associated with the bubonic plague. Farmers Janice and Gerald Ammundsen have long encouraged folks on Quadra Island who possess adequate forage land to consider adding a goat to their household to improve food sovereignty, both at
a family and community level. “We’re trying to push the availability of goats into people’s backyards and create a situation where a family can produce its own dairy and meat in a sustainable way,” said Gerald, who has an agriculture degree with a specialty in dairy science. “Two does can feed a family of six.” Their agenda is more critical now that COVID-19 is posing potential supply chain issues and threatening food security in their rural island community, the couple said. “We’re getting more calls than ever before for milking goats,” said Janice, scratching the chin of
the baby goat in her arms. “And never mind goats, everybody is also planting gardens and getting chickens.” Janice Ammundsen cuddles one the baby goats on her Quadra Island farm. She and her husband, Gerald, believe goats are ideal for improving family and community food security. Photo: Rochelle Baker Quadra Island, a ferry-dependent community with a population of less than 3,000 residents, is located off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Islanders are concerned about being at the end of a very long supply chain during COVID-19, Gerald said. Continued on Page 2
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‘Goating’ serious about COVID-19 food insecurity Continued from Page 1 “The economy is not sustainable, and wasn’t even before COVID-19,” Gerald said. “Our food comes from far away in great quantities. Janice and I have been working for eight years to live self-sufficiently, and it’s not possible.” The couple works a two-hectare parcel of land that supports an extensive vegetable garden, a flock of chickens and a trio of handsome but noisy, mean-spirited geese. But the heart of the Ammundsen enterprise is their beloved herd of goats. They have a total of 34 goats, including 22 recently born kids, and more on the way. Farmers Gerald and Janice Ammundsen currently have 22 kids in their flock of 34 goats. Photo: Couresty of the Ammundsens At the moment, the small farm is cute pandemonium, with a blur of baby goats in constant movement, leaping and bouncing off their moms, each other, stairs, rocks or logs. Their free-range goats are producing triplets and quadruplets because they are so healthy and well fed, Gerald said. But breeding successes don’t necessarily translate into stable revenue. Gerald’s income as a gas and pipe fitter subsidizes raising the goats. A doe once trained to the milking stall, not including the time investment, has consumed about $1,500 in hay and feed, but
sells for $350 to $500, he said. However, in an average year, a good quality dairy goat will produce about $3,000 to $5,000 worth of milk at organic grocery store prices. “We feel that producing our own quality food is priceless,” Janet said. “We couldn’t produce these animals for other homesteads without Gerald’s income from being a tradesman. But selling a dairy goat so inexpensively is really a community service to encourage local food security.” The animals are well suited to Quadra’s habitat, which doesn’t have an abundance of good farmland or open pasture, Gerald said. Requiring less land than a cow, they can forage in the undergrowth of wooded areas, eating things such as brambles or downed tree branches, supplemented by some grains and hay. Goats are ideal for land that has woody underbrush and brambles as they are great foragers, says Farmer Gerald Ammundsen. Photo: Rochelle Baker But potential owners have to carefully consider if they are willing to commit the time and resources to the animals’ wellbeing, Janice stressed. “Sometimes it makes more sense for people to herd share. And not everybody has to have a flock,” she said. Goats or gardens may improve the food security for individual families with the skills and resources to take on those projects, but systemic change that
supports small- and medium-sized farmers is needed to truly establish food sovereignty for an entire island or region, said food sovereignty expert Hannah Wittman. “COVID-19 is making visible these really deep cracks in our food system,” said Wittman, academic director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm and professor in the faculty of land and food systems. “We don’t have the necessary public infrastructure to sustain a regionally resilient food system because a lot of our agriculture investment is focused on exports.” Most estimates suggest B.C. can only meet 50 per cent of its food consumption needs from provincial production, Wittman said. “We depend on a lot of imported food to fill that gap. But, we also export a lot of food,” she said. “So, it’s about shifting the distribution of what is produced, and where it’s produced, to improve food self-sufficiency.” Wittman defined the difference between aiming for food security and food sovereignty; food security measures the extent to which food is available, stable and nutritious, but it doesn’t focus on where the food comes from or how it is produced, she said. Food sovereignty refers to the ability of local peoples to control their own food systems, prioritizing equity and sustainability. Food sovereignty doesn’t necessarily have to
Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan envisions crushing more canola and processing more meat and pulse crops at home, increasing crop production as we grow Saskatchewan’s agri-food exports to $20 billion by 2030.
Hannah Wittman. “What has gotten squeezed out are these middle-sized, highly diversified, regionally adapted farming systems that had grown up to feed regional populations,” she said. Regional food hubs or cooperatives, which see smaller farmers pool resources to increase production capacity and to meet a region’s wholesale and retail demands would see them enter a larger, stable market, she added. “Not every farmer wants to go to farmers’ markets, but most want to sell their food locally,” Wittman said. Due to government regulations around unpasteurized dairy products, the Ammundsens cannot sell their raw dairy products. Governments have succumbed to lobbying by corporate dairy producers
be “hyper local,” she said. “I don’t think it has to take place on an island by island basis,” Wittman said.“In the past, it’s been about regional food systems that involve trade based on principles of fairness and equity between different people producing different things necessary for survival.” Smalland medium-sized farmers are at risk of extinction due to poor earnings, skyrocketing land prices, lack of labour and difficulty attaining appropriate inputs from governments that tend to invest in large-scale consolidated farming, Wittman said. Hannah Wittman says regional food hubs can increase small to medium size farmers’ ability to support themselves and supply food to local consumers. Photo courtesy of
that must pasteurize their product because of the health hazards associated with industrial farming practices, Gerald said. “Governments in North America are in the pockets of corporations and protecting their profit margins,” he said. “They have decreed that raw milk is a biohazard and health risk.” European nations have long understood the health benefits of raw milk, he added. “That’s also why we’re encouraging families to produce their own milk. You can milk your own goat.” Gerald Ammundsen milks a goat to supply his household with fresh, raw milk. He thinks goats are a good choice for Quadra Islanders who want to improve their food security during COVID-19. Photo: Rochelle Baker The COVID-19 crisis is going to change the way locals look at food and the role they might take to produce or support it, Gerald said. “We’ll have to adapt and learn to eat differently. We can produce enough food for Quadra, but it will require the entire population to do it,” he said. Most people hope things will return to normal, but that’s unlikely, he said. “That economy is not coming back. We’re going to have to move back to what farming was like 250 years ago,” he said. “The sooner we can acclimatize, and enjoy that lifestyle, the better off we’ll be.”
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The Battlefords, Thursday, April 16, 2020 - Page 3
Easter lilies out, seed packets in as greenhouses adjust to pandemic reality By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator, Ont. In a typical year, peonies and dahlias from Creekside Growers in Delhi end up in wedding bouquets, at funeral homes, and on conference room tables from Thunder Bay to Prince Edward Island. This year, owner Nick VanderHeide is worried his colourful crop — 800,000 flowers in all — could end up in the trash. “Nobody wants to see their product go in the garbage, but if we’re left with a ton of product, that is what happens.” “It’s difficult to know what to do, but we just keep planting.” Flower growers don’t qualify for crop insurance, but VanderHeide says he has a good relationship with his farm’s lender, Farm Credit Canada, so he’s not too worried should he have to write off the year due to the pandemic. “I’ve been assured by our lenders that they don’t want to own a farm,” he said. VanderHeide is on the board of the Ontario Flower Growers Co-op, which normally holds an auction in Toronto for flower shops and corner stores to bid on
flowers. That auction has moved online and sales cratered in mid-March, but with the holidays approaching VanderHeide said there has been a slight rebound. Eising Greenhouses and Garden Centre in Renton has taken the unexpected closure of its retail store as an opportunity to start selling online. “We closed voluntarily before we were forced to. Right away, we started working on a new website that allowed us to do e-commerce, because we didn’t have that before,” said owner Henry Eising. “We started on Thursday and we can’t keep up with it. Some people don’t have computers, especially some of our elderly customers, so the phone has been ringing off the hook.” To minimize physical interaction, each customer is told what time to come to the greenhouse and which of the six pickup locations in the parking lot to use. Employees stay physically apart in the greenhouse, and specific cash registers serve certain pickup lanes so cashiers don’t cross paths while de-
livering orders to the lot. With churches closed, Eising didn’t get many orders for Easter lilies. But he is selling lots of locally grown pansies, helped by a recent promotion aimed at parents looking for activities to do at home with their kids. Eising sold the flowers at cost and threw in a bag of dirt and five flowerpots. Kids were encouraged to plant the flowers, include a cheery message, and leave the planters on neighbours’ porches. “We sold 150 packages like that, so 750 pots ended up on people’s doorsteps with notes of encouragement,” Eising said. Motivated in part by worries about the availability of local produce, customers are also stocking up on supplies for their home vegetable gardens. “Seeds and soil are kind of like the new toilet paper,” Eising said with a laugh. “We doubled our seed order. Food scarcity is part of it, and I think people are realizing it’s going to be one of those summers of staycation.”
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Salinity in Saskatchewan Soils
Since a saline soil will have tons of salt per acre, this isn’t an issue that can be fixed with the application of a product. One of the best options available fits inside a bag of forage seed. Seeding salt tolerant forages into saline areas of your field will use excess subsoil water and help MIRANDA HEIDECKER drive salts downward. The forage will reduce weed populations and return You may have heard it said that production to these areas in the long salinity is a water problem. Salts term. If you are not a mixed farmer, move in our soils with the ground you won’t have to look far to find a water. When the water table is high, livestock producer who could make those salts can move up into the use of these forages. And it is better root zone of the soil profile and even to have forages in saline areas than onto the soil surface. Salinity reduces lose money on those acres to produce annual crops. the germination of seed due to the hindrance of osmosis; the salts in the soil reduce the seed’s ability to absorb soil water efficiently. If the seed survives germination, salinity also reduces the flow of nutrients to the plant since these nutrients are absorbed into the roots with the soil water.
Proven® Seed has an extensive portfolio of forage varieties for all scenarios, including salinity. We have a salt-tolerant alfalfa called Halo 2. Our Saltmaster blend combines Halo 2 alfalfa with salt-tolerant grasses making a great hay/pasture option for moderately saline soils.
Our Salinemaster blend combines a mix of salt-tolerant grasses that will outcompete stubborn foxtail barley and kochia that overcrowds saline areas. However, if your saline patches have advanced to a point where even the weeds won’t grow, our AC Saltlander wheatgrass is a great fit. Visit ProvenSeed.ca to learn more. Miranda Heidecker is a Crop Production Advisor for Nutrien Ag Solutions in St. Brieux, Sask. She can be reached at 306-275-2028.
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Stopping city sprawl, switching focus to intensification to safeguard green areas By Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer, Ont. When Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice) received royal assent last June, it had a series of knock-on effects. The wide-ranging legislation, at the heart of the Progressive Conservativeâ€™s housing strategy, had impacts for matters such as development charges and the Greenbelt. At the tail end of February, further rules were announced as a result of the bill. The new rules, known as the Provincial Policy Statement (2020), relate to how cities in Ontario plan to grow. The document, that will come into effect on May 1, 2020, sets out the provincial governmentâ€™s strategy to protect land designated for employment, expand the housing supply and improve Canadian citiesâ€™ resilience to climate change. On February 28, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, was in Quinte West (near Belleville) to launch the Statement. According to the province, the four main takeaways from
the legislation are that it will: give municipalities greater â€œflexibilityâ€? over local planning; encourage â€œmore and differentâ€? types of housing; help ensure â€œan adequate supplyâ€? of land for more houses and â€œnot impact the Greenbelt,â€? ensuring it remains in place for future generations. â€œWe are making it easier for families to find homes that meet their needs and their budgets in vibrant, thriving communities,â€? Minister Clark. â€œOver the past 15 years, home ownership and housing that is affordable have become out of reach for far too many people and our government is taking decisive steps to change that.â€? It is unclear if the COVID-19 pandemic currently gripping Ontario will have any impact on these timelines. Many city halls around the country are tied up with the current medical situation, but most planning activity is continuing in the background on its original schedules. The original Provincial Policy Statement was released in June along with
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Bill 108, but changes were made after a consultation period with cities, developers and First Nations communities. For people already living in Brampton and Mississauga, the direct impact of this legislation is complicated. As a result of the new rules, which were previously updated in 2014, cities are in the process of reviewing their Official Plans, the documents that guide their land use and planning. In Brampton, that update is underway in consultation with the cityâ€™s 2040 Vision, aiming to incorporate complete streets and walkable communities into developments moving forward. For Mississauga, its Official Plan review is at an early stage, but considering the same principles as Brampton. Staff at the Region of Peel, which has an Official Plan that informs those of Brampton and Mississauga, previously said they would complete their review by the end of the year. For residents of either city, the Official Plan sets out how their neighbourhoods will develop and grow in years to come. Although long and technical, an Official Plan essentially determines how cities see areas developing, the level of housing, height and density they look to attract and where industrial warehouses or shopping spaces are set to be built. At the heart of the changes the province has
put forward is its plan to increase the construction of housing. Since taking office in 2018, Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet have been vocal that the solution to the housing crisis gripping Brampton, Mississauga and the GTA as a whole is to increase supply by motivating development. Much of Bill 108 has been criticized as a gift to the development industry, making it easier, quicker and cheaper to build houses, with victims of this including city infrastructure and the protected Greenbelt lands. Original proposals, under the same bill, for a Community Benefit Charge were met with fierce opposition from cities. Councillors and staff feared changes would result in lower charges for developers and less money to spend on vital services such as libraries, community centres and sports fields. Following a review and consultation with cities, the province announced new changes in February set to protect community services from cuts, taking away some of the generous concessions previously offered to developers (read more about that story here). Changes as a result of the Provincial Policy Statement have a less direct impact on finance, instead shaping the vision of how cities will develop. The rhetoric in the legislation centers around progressive planning principles cities can adopt to become denser and more
walkable, allowing more development in areas that already have housing. In particular, emphasis is placed on cities working to develop transit-oriented planning, along with a focus on intensifying areas that are already developed, instead of opening up new lands to building. â€œEfficient development patterns optimize the use of land, resources and public investment in infrastructure and public service facilities,â€? the policyâ€™s â€œvisionâ€? section states. â€œThese land use patterns promote a mix of housing, including affordable housing, employment, recreation, parks and open spaces, and transportation choices that increase the use of active transportation and transit before other modes of travel.â€? On paper, this means cities should be planning to grow in areas that already have transit links and established communities. In Mississauga, city hall has been slowly turning the boat away from its sprawling past towards exactly these developments, focusing on approving the construction of apartment buildings where it once favoured single-family homes. In Brampton and, to the north, Caledon, the practice of constructing subdivisions with individual homes continues, leading to sprawling communities that require expensive roads and pipes to extend for kilometres in order to link a few individuals and homes to the rest of the city.
Earlier this month, councillors at the Region of Peel voted to defer a land amendment under the title ROPA 34, that planned to extend the Mayfield subdivision in the southwest of Caledon. Although this builds on a previously established community, the development would be relatively sprawling, exemplified by its conversion of farmland into housing development instead of intensification in the areas of Mayfield already zoned for housing. However, in Peel, regional planning staff have noted that increased population cannot be handled through intensification alone, meaning some new land will need to be set aside for housing. Whether that is done in a modern, walkable manner or along the old principles of sprawl remains to be seen. In an attempt to stop entire cities becoming nothing but housing, something that hurts tax revenue and makes it difficult to build more than a bedroom community, protections have also been put in place to maintain current levels of industrial and employment lands. With the changes due to come into place in May, cities will continue to review their Official Plans to update them to reflect new rules. Once those changes are complete, residents will have a clearer picture of what their homes, transit service and neighbourhoods could look like over the years and decades to come.
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The Battlefords, Thursday, April 16, 2020 - Page 5
COVID-19 pandemic forces milk dumping By Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times, Ont. Dairy Farmers of Ontario took the extraordinary step recently of asking some producers to get rid of their milk instead of shipping it, as the COVID-19 crisis shifts demand for food products. “Mostly the western producers that are being impacted right now, but we’ve been told, we can’t ship anymore than we hold quota for,” said Ronnie Maitland, a dairy farmer near Jasper. A couple of hundred producers in Western Ontario haven’t been so lucky as Andrew Campbell, of Fresh Air Farms in Strathroy, Ontario, posted on Facebook. “We dumped a little over 4000L of raw unpasteurized milk. It’s what we produce over a 48 hour period. In case you are wondering, it’s not a fun thing to do. We are proud of the work we do and the nutrition we provide. We don’t want to see that wasted,” said Campbell. According to Campbell, the problem is multifaceted. The first issue is shelf life. “Milk doesn’t last forever and this is especially true of raw, unpasteurized milk. It’s required to be picked up from our farm within 72 hours and processed within a day or two,” explained Campbell. The second challenge is storage. While milk has to be picked up within 72 hours, most farmers only have 48 hours worth of storage capacity, because normally milk is picked up every 48 hours and investing in more storage is an expense that farmers can’t afford, according to Campbell. Once the milk is picked up, it has to be processed and that’s the third challenge. The mass closures of restaurants, cafés, hotels and schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic means there’s been a dramatic drop in commercial demand for all dairy products including butter, cream, and milk.
“We have seen the collapse of the food service sector and along with that dairy sales that supply that sector. At this point retail sales have not replaced that loss,” said John Wynands, dairy farmer and DFO board member for Frontenac, Grenville, Lanark, Leeds and Renfrew region. Processors are set up for the demand they’ve had for years. Before COVID-19, demand was pretty constant. Commercial operations like Tim Hortons would need a pretty steady amount of cream week to week, food services were ordering buckets of sour cream, or 10-lb bags of shredded cheese. Retail operations accounted for a smaller slice of the pie, but demand for retail has now jumped by more than 50 per cent for milk and more than 80 per cent for cheese in the United States. Canadian numbers are not yet available. The problem is that processors can’t adapt their processing lines that quickly. “Those processing lines can’t change overnight. It takes millions in new equipment and packaging to convert those. So you’ve got retail lines that can’t keep up while food service lines are completely shut
down,” said Campbell. So far it’s only been a select number of farmers who have had to dump their milk, but their pain reverberates through the whole sector. “Producers share the costs of their lost revenue so all producers will take lower pay for the milk, so that any producer requiring to dispose of milk is still compensated,” said Cheryl Smith, CEO of DFOntario – the organization that sets milk production quotas and prices. According to Maitland, normally there is a system where producers can ship more than their quota for credit, but that’s on hold right now as well. According to DFO, there are about 3,400 dairy producers in the province, and this is only the second time in the 55 years of the organization’s existence they’ve taken this draconian step. “Disposing of milk is an extraordinary measure, and one that Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only ever considered in emergency situations,” wrote Smith. It’s not as if the milk can be re-directed to other purposes such as food banks or other charities. “A food bank can do nothing with a 40,000L
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tanker at its back door. They aren’t processors,” explained Campbell. As it is, dairy farmers in Ontario regularly donate 100,000 litres of milk each month to food banks, not because of this crisis, but because hundreds of farms have done it for years and will continue to do so. In the meantime, producers and processors find themselves in new unchartered territory. “We are working very closely with processors and industry groups to respond to the unpredictable market fluctuations that are now part of our current environment,” said Smith.
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Page 6 - The Battlefords, Thursday, April 16, 2020
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Buffalo Pound - Nature conservancy looks to restore overgrazed grasslands, shoreline By Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader-Post The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working to restore more than 850 hectares of grasslands and seven kilometres of shoreline at Buffalo Pound north of Moose Jaw, an area roughly equal to 1,065 Canadian football fields. To help complete the project, the NCC is asking the public to donate to it.
The non-profit bought the land from a local cattle producer using internal money. It has since raised 85 per cent of the costs to cover the purchase hoping people will donate enough money to cover the remaining expenses, $525,000. Cameron Wood oversees conservation for the NCC in Saskatchewan. He said it was imperative
to buy the land as soon as possible. It sits west of Highway 2, adjacent to the north shoreline of Buffalo Pound Lake. “It’s more a question of ‘what is the risk if it weren’t purchased for conservation?’ And there is certainly a risk that at some point in the future that habitat could have been altered for cottage development, for
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market gardens, even for other recreational uses like golf courses,” he said. The land had previously been used for cattle grazing to the point where it had been over-grazed, Wood said. “There are some areas … that are kind of above the crest of the valley that were previously cultivated and were used for feed as well,” he said. Part of the goal in restoring the area is putting its ecosystem back in balance for its species at risk, including birds like Sprague’s pipit, the bobolink, Baird’s sparrow, the American badger and the northern leopard frog. The NCC said the area is an important wildlife corridor for those species. The non-profit also hopes the project will ensure the water quality in Buffalo Pound Lake remains high. Wood said that’s key for the lake itself and for residents in Regina, Moose Jaw and their surrounding communities, who all draw their drinking water from it. Native grasslands help to filter the water that’s eventually processed into drinking water, Wood said. He said restoring the area doesn’t mean exclud-
ing cattle grazing; in fact, cattle grazing within reason helps maintain biodiversity in the area. “(It’s) a really important way we manage properties to mimic natural disturbances of the past,” like bison grazing, Wood said. By grazing, cattle (now) and bison (in the past) help nutrients cycle through an ecosystem, he said. “They’ll eat vegetation and through the manure that decomposes, that’ll feed back into the soil profile. The hoof action can work to create opportunities for seeds to establish the soil profile.” As more cattle trample a certain area, they thin out thicker grass species, like Kentucky bluegrass (often used as lawns in front yards), which opens the area to thinner grass species that need more
breathing room, Wood explained. He said it’s a misconception that conservation efforts seek to exclude cattle grazing; integrating cattle grazing supports “that livelihood of the rural fabric of Saskatchewan.” To that end, the NCC will be leasing the land to ranchers on a yearly basis, so they can use it for their herds to graze. A normal grazing season starts in the early summer and continues into the fall. Wood said conservationists need to research how many cattle and for how long should be allowed to graze the area to maintain and build up its biodiversity. The previous landowner will be the first rancher to lease the land, Wood said, once the leasing process begins.
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The Battlefords, Thursday, April 16, 2020 - Page 7
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Do hunting traditions conflict with regulations? By Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal, Sask.
As hunters, we all need to respect nature, the law and our rural neighbours It is springtime, which means spring hunting season is coming soon. It is time to discuss regulations versus tradition. The regulations are very strict on how to hunt and where to hunt. Yet, traditional hunting on the prairies has been slightly different for the majority of our hunters. In our rural area of Saskatchewan, the farmers and small-town residents make up the majority of active hunters. Hunters know the farmers in the area, they know whose land they can hunt on and which land cannot be used. Years ago, nine times out of ten, hunters had permission to use certain lands. Some may assume that permission carries on as these traditional hunting areas are hunted year-afteryear and have been passed on through generations. Many hunters tell stories about how they “grabbed the old deer rifle”, jumped into the truck and started driving down the road. If a deer was spotted, they may have even driven into
a field to shoot that nice big buck or doe with the understanding it is feeding on farmers’ crops. The hunter may be attempting to harvest some “jumper” meat and help not only maintain the population of deer, but also lessen wildlife damage to farmers’ crops. For the most part, there is not much concern during hunting season; yet, every now-and-then a “bad apple” isn’t as respectful to the farmers’ crops or livestock. We have reports yearly of crop damage, and domestic animal disturbances, but for the most part, our traditional hunting season goes off without a hitch. Speaking as a hunter, we are only visiting someone else’s property where we are merely guests of the landowner. Not many people would be impressed if someone drove across our lawn or through our garden in town, yet some bad apples feel it is ok to drive across a planted field or a hayfield. This can cause hundreds
to thousands of dollars in damage thus taking away from the farm’s income. Unfortunately, this is not what the regulations state, especially now with the new trespassing laws. With the new trespassing laws, we need to find out who’s land it is and get actual stated permission each time we enter a property; better yet, getting permission for the year to enter that property. Some general hunting regulations that are different then traditional hunting practices state things like: It is unlawful to shoot across, along or from a provincial highway, provincial road or municipal road. Or, it is unlawful to hunt on posted land without the consent of the owner or occupant. The new “Trespass to Property Act” takes it one step further stating, “If a contravention of this Act is committed by means of a motor vehicle the driver of the motor vehicle is liable to a fine provided pursuant to this act”, contravention of this Act will cost up to
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$2000.00 if convicted. The good thing about hunting as a rural resident is the knowledge of the area and landowners. It is far easier for local residents to seek and receive permission knowing who owns what quarter and where most farms are located. It is always suggested to obtain R.M. maps available at all R.M. offices at a far less cost than a possible fine. As hunters, we all need to respect nature, the law and our rural neighbours. It is not impossible to get permission to hunt on a farmers’ land. Often, farmers will welcome a respectful hunter.
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