What we heard — A new management plan for Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park
- What we heard
- The vision
- Key strategy 1: Growing land base and sustainable park infrastructure
- Key strategy 2: Species at risk and resource management
- Key strategy 3: Completing a basic visitor experience
- Key strategy 4: Building support and connection with Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders
Parks Canada has completed a new Management Plan for Grasslands National Park. This plan will guide management decisions for the next 10 years.
Beginning in January 2019, we sought the input of stakeholders, neighbours and interested Canadians on the future of the park. Many voices were heard, and they contributed to the creation of plan and shared vision that reflects the values and priorities of stakeholders, partners and the Canadian public.
In early 2021, we shared the draft plan with stakeholders, Indigenous partners, and the general public through letters, virtual meetings and online engagement.
What we heard
The following is a summary of the main points that were heard during consultations on the draft plan. Some feedback received during the consultation process was very specific in scope. As park management plans are currently developed to be more strategic, there are very few specific actions included in the final plan. However, where possible, suggestions we received were included as part of regular park operations.
Response to draft vision statement for the park was overwhelmingly positive. We received multiple comments reinforcing the need to highlight a commitment to engagement with Indigenous peoples, and to recognize the important past and present contributions of ranchers to conserving the native prairie ecosystem. In response, a statement acknowledging the stewardship of ranchers was added to the vision statement.
Key strategy 1:
Growing land base and sustainable park infrastructure
We received support for continuing to grow Grasslands National Park’s land base toward the boundaries identified in the Federal-Provincial agreement, with a large majority of respondents seeing this as important work. In response to stakeholder input, we added to this strategy a commitment to maintaining cooperative and collaborative relationships with partners and stakeholders after the land assemblage is complete, and strengthened language regarding ensuring future actions contribute to ecological integrity. This includes reaffirming that infrastructure development at Grasslands National Park will not undermine ecological integrity.
Key strategy 2:
Species at risk and resource management
The importance of conservation and resource management objectives resonated strongly with online respondents and with a number of partners and stakeholders. We heard that completing an inventory of the park’s cultural resources is important, and identified that as a target to be achieved by 2030. Stakeholders underlined the value of cattle grazing as a tool to improve ecological integrity in the park. We acknowledge that perspectives on the protection of some Species at Risk are not shared by all stakeholders, and that some stakeholders may oppose management actions for some species.
Key strategy 3:
Completing a basic visitor experience
Feedback on this key strategy emphasized the importance of working with partners, including adjacent communities and park neighbours, in achieving goals related to fostering connection to place and visitor understanding. We also heard, and recognized, the importance of continuing to build relationships with Indigenous partners to facilitate the sharing of their cultural connections to the park. Stakeholders also highlighted the importance of ranching heritage as an underrepresented theme in interpretive programs, which is now recognized in the plan. Online respondents recognized the need to improve and complete visitor infrastructure, but also expressed a desire to keep Grasslands National Park ‘wild’.
Key strategy 4:
Building support and connection with Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders
Canadians strongly support an emphasis on building connections between Indigenous Peoples and Grasslands National Park. Respondents to our online comment card placed Indigenous relations among the top three priorities for the park in the next 10 years. Stakeholders told us that the involvement of Indigenous partners in landscape-level conservation is important, as is creating opportunities for Indigenous to communities to rebuild connections to the land. We also heard about the importance of working with neighbours and local communities in areas of tourism and conservation. Stakeholders clearly voiced the importance of ongoing communication of our progress in implementing the Management Plan.
Partners, stakeholders and the general public provided valuable feedback on the present and future of Grasslands National Park. We heard that safeguarding the ecological integrity and inherent wildness of the park is very important, as are relationships with partners. We were told about the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the experience of the ranching community in conserving the land, and about the value in incorporating the knowledge of that community, along with Indigenous traditional knowledge, into conservation work. We recognize that there are diverse and sometimes conflicting views on how the park should be managed, and that continued dialogue with stakeholders is essential.
The park planning team is proud that the 2021 Park Management Plan for Grasslands National Park was completed in consultation with Indigenous partners, stakeholders, local communities and the general public. Despite the delays and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, two rounds of extensive consultations were completed and ensured that the plan was informed by your suggestions and ideas. Our shared vision will guide park management for the next 10 years as we work to implement the key strategies to complete the park, protect species at risk, improve ecological integrity and build support and connection with stakeholders and Indigenous partners.
The final plan has now been approved by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and has been tabled in Parliament. It is available on our website at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands/info/plan.
For more information about the management plan or about Grasslands National Park:
Grassland National Park of Canada
South Saskatchewan Field Unit
P.O. Box 150
Val Marie SK S0N 2T0
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