Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation (SSGF) is pleased to announce it has been awarded $3.4M from the Weston Family Foundation Prairie Grasslands Initiative to collaborate on one of the largest prairie grasslands conservation efforts in Canadian history.
“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 outcomesâ€•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.”