A new funding program could see the development and protection of more native prairie in Southwest Saskatchewan.
ALUS Canada is working with the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program to help producers make a positive change on the prairie landscape.
The two groups are looking at developing ALUS projects in areas where cropland is already completely surrounded by native grassland.
Tom Harrison, the Executive Director of SODCAP is leading the projects and says ALUS Canada has stepped up to help producers financially with the conversion.
"The ALUS program is a little different than some of the other programs we've done. They want to see an annual payment to the producer. We sign up a five-year agreement with the producer. We've given him an upfront establishment cost, and then we come to him with a per acre annual payment for the next five years."
According to Harrison, the payments will vary depending on the project, noting the cost of native seed is extremely expensive.
"We're looking at $200 per acre just for seed production. You start adding in all the land prep, weed control, seeding costs, and establishment costs. Our experience over the last five or six years has shown that it's close to $500 an acre to do that. So what we've done is we do that over five years. We give a good upfront payment, buy the seed, and then give a maintenance cost for the next five years."
He says they've already identified a 45-acre project in the Val Marie area.
"It's completely surrounded by native grasslands and so this will fill in a gap for that area. The producer actually approached us about doing the project. I think it's going to be a good project we're going to seed all native species. We've sourced out the seed already, and he's already planted the crop."
By converting cropland to native prairie grassland, they create wildlife corridors to connect existing areas of native prairie producing habitat for many species-at-risk like the Greater Sage Grouse, Swift Fox, Sprague's Pipit and Chestnut Collared Longspur.Click here to see more...