Pasture changes hands

The Govenlock pasture in southwestern Saskatchewan has been transferred from one federal ministry to another.

In a July 29 news release, Environment Canada announced it was taking over the pasture from Agriculture Canada.

An official transfer date has not been announced and Environment Canada did not provide more information before Western Producer deadlines. It appears from the news release that the arrangement is part of the National Conservation Plan announced last year to help conserve and restore land and water bodies.

The former Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration pasture was the only one not slated for transfer to the province under a five-year divestiture plan because it is federally owned. It covers more than 200 sq. kilometres in the Rural Municipality of Reno.

The province and Ottawa have still not determined how they will deal with similar but smaller parcels of land, called non-reversionary, in the other 59 pastures. They include 21 yard sites that the province has said are integral to the operation of the pastures.

The province had offered to swap some land with the federal government to solve the issue, but that proposal fell off the rails.

Govenlock is home to about a dozen species at risk, and Environment Canada will work to conserve the ecosystem and habitat, the news release said, adding that the local community and ranchers are important conservation partners.

“Environment Canada will work with them to develop a strategy to manage the pasture in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible way to support livestock production, wildlife habitat protection and local community interests,” it said.

The department said it has consulted over the past year with local users, and a management strategy has yet to be finalized.

Randy Stokke, a rancher and member of Sustainable Canada Association, said the organizations wants to be sure those affected by the legislation are protected.

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