The Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan (SK PCAP) hosted the Native Prairie Restoration and Reclamation Workshop on February 8 and 9, 2017 in Regina, SK. The theme of the event was "Reclaiming Spaces - Restoring Species" and workshop participants came from across Western Canada and the United States to exchange information and ideas, and learn about the most current and effective prairie and species restoration methods available.
Professional agrologist and restoration specialist Larry Gabruch opened the conference by discussing some of the key challenges and opportunities that prairie restoration specialists face. "There have been many advances in reclamation and restoration technologies and knowledge in the past several decades," Gabruch explained, but added that budgetary constraints, site challenges and climatic conditions continue to keep projects interesting. "Creativity and collaboration with partners, landowners and customers is always essential to obtaining a successful outcome," he concluded.
Sessions covered specific topics including rangeland health monitoring, soil remediation, prescribed burning, pollinators, industrial mitigation, social media communication, and ranching alongside reclamation. There were also presentations dedicated to restoration efforts to assist the recovery of species at risk, including plants, insects, wildlife, and birds. Academics, researchers and species specialists from several provinces and the United States weighed in on methods of species conservation through habitat restoration. Kevin Teneycke with the Nature Conservancy of Canada shared his experiences with conserving multiple species at risk in the tallgrass prairie of Manitoba. "When working in landscapes where habitats and species are so rare, and under such significant stress, there is little room for error," he explained to the audience. "There was an opportunity to assist land managers and facilitate active prairie restoration within regulatory frameworks," Teneycke continued, outlining how his organization developed Action Plans that could account for the needs of species at risk and their habitats.
The conference also celebrated achievements in native prairie restoration and reclamation as well as prairie stewardship in the province. The Meewasin Valley Authority were the recipients of the inaugural Native Prairie Restoration and Reclamation Award, for their dedicated restoration work as well as their tireless efforts at invasive species management. The winners of the first Native Prairie Stewardship award were the Manitou Cattle Breeders Co-operative, for their commitment to managing prairie as well as controlling noxious weeds in a shared working landscape in the Manitou Sand Hills in West Central Saskatchewan.
"We were very pleased with the speakers, trade show and poster session this year," said Kayla Balderson Burak, SK PCAP Manager and host of the event. "Attendance and interest continues to grow at these workshops which demonstrates professionals are eager to continue learning methods and strategies for conserving prairie grasslands and species at risk," she added, saying that SK PCAP will be hosting another workshop next year.