Habitat Stewardship in Saskatchewan 2012-2013

Final Project Report: Habitat Stewardship in Saskatchewan 2012-13

Goals and Objectives

The purpose of this project is to restore, conserve and enhance existing waterfowl habitat with emphasis on wetlands, in order to return waterfowl breeding productivity to levels of the 1970s. Breeding habitat for waterfowl including Northern Pintail, and other grassland nesting shorebirds and landbirds will be created, enhanced and secured in 12 year agreements through voluntary, cost-shared projects with local farmers and ranchers. Habitat projects will focus on cropland conversion to perennial forage to provide upland nesting habitat, and conserve existing breeding wetlands for Northern Pintail and other waterfowl.
Project activities will benefit other non-game birds, including shorebirds, waterbirds, and landbirds. Landowners interested in restoring drained wetlands or conservation easements will be referred to Ducks Unlimited Canada and Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The goals of this project are:

1) Restore and secure upland nesting habitats, and secure existing breeding wetlands, for Northern Pintail and other waterfowl.

2) Establish an inventory of existing and drained wetland basins in the Saskatchewan NAWMP Target Landscapes.

Activities

April 2012-March 2013: Negotiate 12 year conservation agreements with local farmers and ranchers to convert cropland to pasture or hayland seeded with native or non-invasive tame species.

October 2012-March 2013: Use existing aerial photography to complete wetland inventories

Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

Establishing an inventory of existing and drained wetland basins in the Saskatchewan NAWMP Target Landscapes will enable both calculation of wetland losses, and efficient targeting and direction of proactive wetland restoration programming.

Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

In Saskatchewan migratory game birds other than ducks and geese are defined as Sandhill Crane, Common Snipe, and American Coot. Restoration and securement of temporary and seasonal wetlands will provide valuable breeding habitat for snipe, but will benefit coots to a lesser extent as they generally prefer semi-permanent wetlands. Waterfowl species expected to benefit from this project include, Dabblers such as, Mallards, Northern Shoveler and the Blue-winged Teal.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

Project activities contribute directly to achievement of the Saskatchewan NAWMP Habitat Objectives, as well as habitat goals for shorebirds, landbirds and waterbirds. Activities are also consistent with recommendations of local watershed planning groups concerned with source water protection and wetland retention and restoration, and local hunting groups concerned with game populations.

The economic interests of landowners will benefit through modifications to their overall farm plan and operation that increase their profitability, sustainability, resilience to drought etc. Other local industry will benefit economically from increased prosperity of local landowners. Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) Partners and other conservation organizations will benefit from progress toward provincial goals and information on wetland loss. Development of provincial wetland conservation policy will also benefit from increased information on the magnitude and spatial patterns of wetland loss.

Project Location

This project will target the Saskatchewan NAWMP Target Landscapes, with special emphasis on the Lightning East, Conjuring Creek, Upper Assiniboine, Pheasant Hills, Missouri Coteau South, and Cactus Lake Target Landscapes. 

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Glen McMaster, Director, Water Quality Services, Integrated Water Services Division, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Regina, Saskatchewan.