Peace Native Grassland Stewardship Program 2003-2004
Mike Rosendal, Annette Baker
The Peace Native Grassland Stewardship Program uses information from the Peace Parklands Native Grassland Inventory Program to develop and implement private landowner stewardship strategies. Through 2001 to 2003, the Peace Parklands Native Grassland Inventory Program identified and mapped upland native grasslands throughout the white zone of the Peace region. Results from these activities suggest that less than 0.5% of native upland grasslands remain in the Peace River region. Encroachment by shrubs, introductions of exotic plants, overgrazing, conversion of native cover to agricultural cover types and development due to expansions in the municipal, industrial and agricultural sectors caused these declines and continue to threaten the remaining native grasslands.
Our surveys of landowners conducted in 2002, indicated that many landowners are interested in conserving native grassland communities and that educational material outlining various conservation options and management strategies represent an important component of conservation efforts. Survey results showed that landowners were particularly interested in receiving information on plants identified in the remnants of native grasslands. Based on this level of interest, we developed a checklist of native plants and used this information as the basis for the Peace Native Grassland Stewardship Program. In addition, we developed educational packages and distributed these to landowners to support conservation efforts through increasing levels of awareness. This report describes activities completed in 2003 and 2004 and includes a number of communication products, i.e., brochures, fact sheets, and a wildflower identification guide currently used to provide private landowners and other interested parties with information on native grassland communities in northwest Alberta. Lastly, we identify a number of options that could be used to support the conservation of grassland communities in northwest Alberta. These include: recognition programs, management and lease agreements, land-use exchange, conservation easements, land sales and land donations.