News Release - August 2, 2005
GRANT APPROVED FOR THE GREAT SAND HILLS STUDY
The Government of Saskatchewan has approved a grant to the University of Regina in an amount not to exceed $900,000 in 2005/06 to fund this year of the Great Sand Hills Regional Environmental Study. To date, $1.5 million of the $3.14 million has been spent on the various studies in the Great Sand Hills leading to the creation of sustainable use options for the future management of the area.
"We are pleased to be able to deliver on these commitments working in partnership with the University of Regina," Environment Minister David Forbes said. " As Saskatchewan moves toward a vision of a greener and more prosperous economy this landmark work in the Great Sand Hills will guide the future management of this unique and valued area. What we are doing in the Great Sand Hills is truly a holistic approach that balances our desire for economic development with environmental and socio-cultural interests."
The province established a Scientific Advisory Committee in January 2005 to oversee the Regional Environmental Study of the area. Dr. Reed Noss of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, a world-renowned expert in ecosystem management, is the senior scientific advisor for the Committee. Highly respected scientists from Saskatchewan including Dr. Dave Gauthier and Dr. Polo Diaz from the University of Regina, Dr. Bram Noble from the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Paul James from Saskatchewan Environment are the other members of the Committee.
"The University of Regina is pleased to be working with Saskatchewan Environment in addressing the critical natural, social and economic issues of sustainability facing the Great Sand Hills," Gauthier said. Gauthier, a professor of geography at the U of R, is Chair of the Committee for the project and also the executive director of the Canadian Plains Research Centre (CPRC). "This regional environmental study will provide strategic recommendations to guide human activities," Gauthier added. " It will help ensure that the long-term ecological integrity of the area is maintained, while corresponding levels of environmental, socio-cultural and economic benefits are realized."
A request for public input on an overview of the Regional Environmental Study elicited some valuable comments from the public, which have been incorporated into the study's designs. Additional consultation will take place over the course of the two-year study. Fieldwork connected to the study began this spring and a report to government is expected to be completed by the end of the 2006/07 fiscal year.
The Great Sand Hills area, located in the southwest corner of the province, is 750 square miles (1,207 square kilometers) of prairie, which features native grass, active and inactive sand dunes and is home to rare and threatened species like the Ord's kangaroo rat. In June 2004 the government accepted all the recommendations of an Advisory Committee set up to study the future of land use for the area.
Information on the Great Sand Hills Regional Environmental Study can be found at http://www.se.gov.sk.ca/GSH.
For More Information, Contact: