Native Prairie Appreciation Week celebrates 'seas of grass'

From paNOW
June 19, 2017 - 12:00pm

As synonymous in the province as expansive skies and rushing rivers, Saskatchewan celebrates its natural grasslands.

Minister of Agriculture Lyle Stewart and Environment Minister Scott Moe declared the week of June 18 to June 24 Native Prairie Appreciation Week. The week is dedicated to prairie ecosystems.

“Native prairie ecosystems play a valuable role in our environment by providing wildlife habitat, contributing clean drinking water and providing recreational opportunities,” Moe said, adding native prairies help reduce the overall carbon footprint.

Stewart commended agricultural producers for recognizing their role in supporting native prairies. He said farmers take pride in preserving the ecosystem by using sustainable land management practises to contribute to both the economic and environmental health of the province.

Nature Conservancy Canada’s Science Manager in Saskatchewan Mathew Braun said he liked the term coined by first French explorers; they referred to the prairies as “a sea of grass.”

He explained roughly 20 per cent of Saskatchewan's grasslands still remain.

“Once you cultivate [grasslands] you don’t really get that back, it takes a good couple thousand years to get there” Braun said. “Because the grass has been growing there for so long, and built up the soil, and made it really rich, that’s what makes it so valuable for agriculture.”

Once grasslands are established they’re one of the hardiest environments around.

The Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan’s manager Carolyn Gaudet said the week is an educational opportunity.

“Everyone can play a role in the conservation of prairie landscapes and a great first step is learning more about them,” Gaudet said. “We are encouraging all Saskatchewan residents to explore and experience what native prairie has to offer.”


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