By SAMANTHA JOHNSON
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After being postponed last year, the sold-out Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference (PCESC) is being held next week at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.
This year marks the 13th conference, which is held every three years and rotates between the three Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Rangeland Agrologist Stephanie Jaffray explained this is the first time the conference has been held in Alberta for many years.
Registration had to be capped at 250 people due to limited space, and those attending will be a mixture of industry, ranchers, First Nations and Indigenous groups, government, along with representatives from post-secondary institutions.
A pre-conference event and banquet are being held the evening before the conference begins. There will be a prairie-themed art show, with local artists displaying their work.
Additionally, two awards will be presented that night. The first will be a conservation award to someone who has shown leadership in conservation across the prairie grasslands, with the winner chosen from a list of nominees. The second award will be a scholarship to a young person who is pursuing a career in environmental work.
The theme this year is Collaboration, Connection and Conservation.
“Conservation is the overall goal of what we are trying to achieve by conserving grasslands and the prairies. In order to do that, we have to connect with the right people and form collaborations so we can be effective in the work we do,” stated Jaffray.
There will be several different plenaries during the conference.
The role of conservation and breeding as it relates to at-risk prairie species will be hosted by the Wilder Institute, which will discuss some of the breeding and rehabilitation programs it does at the zoo.
Other sessions include discussions on the burrowing owl, planning and conservation, habitat suitability for reintroduction, and sand dune habitat restoration for the Ord’s kangaroo rat (dipodomys ordii).
The Ord’s kangaroo rat has a population in the Cypress area and a wildlife biologist from Medicine Hat will be at the conference to talk about the work they are doing.
Other speakers include a representative from the Kainai Nation to talk about the Kainai linnii Rematriation Project, which started about a year ago. There will also be a rancher’s panel to discuss their challenges and successes regarding the conservation of prairie grasslands.
For those who are unable to attend the conference in person, the PCESC website will be continuously updated as it proceeds.
Additionally, there will be live feeds on their social media sites. Website and social media sites can be found at https://www.pcesc.ca/, Facebook: ?PCESC23,
SAMANTHA JOHNSON is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the MEDICINE HAT NEWS. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.