The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is pleased to announce the contribution of $1.27 million from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in additional funding to continue species at risk stewardship activities through the Species At Risk Partnership on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) initiative. The contribution allows the CCA to carry on conservation activities with beef producers to protect Greater Sage Grouse critical habitat in the Grassland Natural Region of southeast Alberta. The CCA will again partner with MULTISAR, Cows and Fish, Alberta Beef Producers, and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to deliver the latest SARPAL project.
“Strong partnerships with the agricultural sector are essential for the protection of biodiversity and wildlife habitat,” states the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Our government is pleased to support the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association through the Species At Risk Partnership on Agricultural Lands fund. Through ongoing collaboration, we will continue to conserve important grassland habitat for species at risk, including the iconic Greater Sage- Grouse.”
The previous SARPAL project from 2015 to 2020 covered over 189,000 acres in five years within the project boundaries in Alberta. The project worked with 24 ranches and brought 45 habitat enhancement strategies into place. The project had been incredibly successful at bringing together conservation groups and beef producers to achieve meaningful outcomes for species at risk through ranch management plans, education, habitat conservation strategies and habitat improvements ranging from riparian protection, off-site watering, portable electric fencing, and implementation of beneficial management practices. All these projects were producer driven and highlight the benefits of collaborative stewardship programs building on local knowledge and the positive impacts they can have for biodiversity and wildlife habitat.
“This additional funding from ECCC is welcome news and we are excited to take further steps forward working directly with beef producers through SARPAL to make a difference to the protection of Greater Sage Grouse habitat in southeast Alberta,” said Duane Thompson, CCA Environment Committee Chair.
Over the next two years of this project the focus will again be on working directly with landowners in the target area to conduct habitat assessments, develop habitat management strategies and employ beneficial management strategies to protect Greater Sage Grouse critical habitat. The project will also evaluate the feasibility of utilizing new technologies such as virtual fencing to protect sensitive habitats. An additional aspect of the latest SARPAL project is the scoping, development and delivery of innovative term conservation easements with willing landowners with Greater Sage Grouse critical habitat on their lands. These term agreements would be in place for a set period of time. Many producers have indicated they prefer term agreements to perpetual agreements primarily for ranch family succession reasons.