Water and fire dominate BCCA meeting

Associations: News Roundup from the August 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Concerns about biodiversity and balancing resources were among the issues voiced by the members of the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association at its 2018 annual general meeting.

Newly elected BCCA president Larry Garrett says topics such as disappearing grasslands, water scarcity and using grazing to minimize wildfire risk came to the forefront during the meeting, held in Smithers, B.C.

“Without doubt the biggest thing that British Columbia needs to look at is somehow we have to leverage our resources,” said Garrett, who ranches south of Vanderhoof in the Nechako Valley. Garrett’s family has been raising cattle for generations, and he first became involved with the BCCA as a committee chair before running for a director position.

Members indicated their concerns that the province is losing biodiversity, in particular grasslands and wildlife habitat, due to other resources being put first. “Right now we’re very much a timber-centric province,” said Garrett. “Our province is being planted basically wall to wall with trees. It’s seriously upsetting the environment. We’ve got to figure out some way to create some biodiversity within these ecosystems.”

This view was reflected in a number of resolutions carried at the meeting, including one that approved the BCCA lobbying the provincial government to consider the preservation of sustainable grazing when stocking standards of planted seedlings or naturally regenerating trees are chosen for Crown ranges.

The use of pastures in fire reduction also made its way into the form of a resolution as some pastures successfully protected towns from fire or helped slow a fire’s approach in 2017. The resolutions urged the BCCA to work with organizations to promote “targeted interface grazing adjacent to urban areas to reduce fire fuels and lower the risk of wildfires” and the use of silvopastures and permanent pastures as fire reduction strategies for grazing license or lease lands.

There was another discussion on livestock watering, which Garrett predicted “will be quite front and centre for our association this next year.” This will encompass stock watering on both private land and Crown ranges. Both the potential environmental impact of stock watering and water volume are of concern. “We have to keep enough water in the rivers for the fish, and water’s becoming quite a scarce commodity, and that’s somewhat regional,” he said.

The BCCA has finished a report for the provincial government regarding potential changes to B.C.’s meat regulations. The association also recently submitted its recommendations regarding the province’s revitalization of the Agricultural Land Reserve, an initiative that generated discussion at the meeting, as well as its input on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to the federal government.

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