Thursday, July 4, 2013

Margaret Atwood, Graeme Gibson, Tour Grasslands, Pastures

Last week, authors Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson joined fellow conservationists for a tour of PFRA pastures and other publicly owned grasslands in Saskatchewan's southwest.

The Prairie Passages tour was co-ordinated by Public Pastures–Public Interest, and included Ian Davidson (Executive Director, Nature Canada) and Alberto Yanosky (Executive Director, BirdLife International affiliate Guyra Paraguay.)  

First, a Regina, Saskatchewan, welcome at the First Nations University of Canada:

Graeme Gibson responds to the gathering © SB
Guests at the Welcome  © SB
Lynn Wells (VP Academic, FNUinv); Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood, 
Fidji  Gendron (FNUiv faculty and prairie biologist) © SB

Next, the drive to Val Marie for presentations, bird watching, tours through PFRA pastures and Grasslands National Park, wild flower photos, meetings with pasture patrons and ranchers around Val Marie and Swift Current, and media interviews. (And did I mention bird watching?)

Margaret Atwood, interviewed by SWTV News 
Ian Davidson (Nature Canada) and Gord Vaadeland
(Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) 
© SB
Media and pasture patrons talk to Trevor Herriot, rt., 
and Graeme Gibson, third from left. © SB
Birdwatching. Yes, on the road. A Long-billed Curlew 
landed here a minute after this picture was taken, while 
Chestnut-collared Longspurs perched on nearby rocks,
and high above, Sprague's Pipits sang. © SB
Listening to Wes Olson (left) and his presentation 
on bison and grazing© SB
Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson. © SB

And yes, Twitter lessons, too...

(Margaret Atwood has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter.)

Ian Davidson, Margaret Atwood, and Alberto Yanosky;
Graeme Gibson, standing, 

in Val Marie's Harvest Moon Cafe. © SB

There was also a lemonade social, with Qs and As in Val Marie.

The four guests at the Val Marie social   © SB

Then back to Regina for a gala dinner to celebrate the visit by Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson.

The head table, singers and musicians at the dinner. © SB
On the podium: Margaret Atwood; the evening's  co-hosts 
CBC's Sheila Coles and author/naturalist Candace Savage; 
conservationist Lorne Scott and author/naturalist Trevor Herriot. © SB

And, on the last morning, a news conference at which PPPI called for a one-year delay in the transfer of the first ten pastures.

News conference: Ian Davidson, Alberto Yanosky, Margaret Atwood
and Graeme Gibson, with Trevor Herriot at the microphone.  
© SB

I feel so lucky to have been able to join this tour, to take pictures and listen to stories about this fragile land, the plants, the bison, the cattle, the birds and the people. (You can see my work-in-progress photos of birds, animals and scenes on my Prairie Nature blog, and my work-in-progress photos of wildflowers on my Prairie Wildflowers blog...  the links go directly to tour-related posts. And, yes, there's a new post, too, of my braid with Margaret Atwood...)

My thanks to all involved, and to Val Marie's Harvest Moon Cafe, too, for its exceptionally fine food, and to The Convent Country Inn for great sleeps (for at least a few hours each night, before dawn bird-watching kicked in...)

Public Pastures - Public Interest is an independent citizen-based organization devoted to maintaining all of Saskatchewan’s public grasslands as healthy prairie ecosystems and working landscapes. PPPI was founded on principles of retaining, protecting, and managing the province’s Crown grasslands, including the PFRA community pastures, as vital elements of the public trust every bit as precious as its northern forests and lakes. Its six principles for Saskatchewan heritage rangeland have been endorsed by a long list of organizations ranging from Nature Canada and Nature Saskatchewan to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada

For more on the tour and updates on the work of PPPI and the future of the PFRA pastures, see Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes, and Pasture Posts.



  1. My singing friends, singing Laura Stewart's song, "Prairie Breeze." Oh, that I had been there!


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