FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2016

Guelph, ON — The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, is pleased to announce the availability of the new Grassland Stewardship Program (GSP), the first program offered in Ontario under the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands initiative. This unique funding program is now accepting applications until July 5th under the first intake, with a second intake scheduled to close August 15th.

A new program for Ontario’s farmers, the Grassland Stewardship Program encourages producer actions that support healthy farm habitats for bobolink and other grassland birds. “Unlike most other programs we offer, the Grassland Stewardship Program is delivered using a competitive bid process. This allows farmers to customize their application to fit their farm and financial needs, and gives us the assurance that we are funding projects with the most beneficial impact for grassland birds,” said Gord Green, President of OSCIA.

The competitive bid process may be new to some, but is a proven model that saw success in the Grassland Habitat Farm Incentive Program, which funded critical farm-habitat projects in past years. Revitalized for this program, GSP is accepting bids for five Best Management Practices that are critical to conserving grassland bird habitat: Control of Encroaching Trees and Shrubs through Mowing; Pasture Rejuvenation; Incorporating Delayed Grazing in Rotational Grazing Systems; Native Grassland Restoration; and Forage Harvest Management (Delayed Haying). Both single and multi-year projects are eligible under Native Grassland Restoration and Forage Harvest Management categories.

“With grassland birds being so particular about their habitat, this program allows us to support projects that meet the needs of the birds and the producers, while selecting for optimal farm habitat that will mean the most to these sensitive bird populations,” expressed Christine Schmalz, Environmental Programs Manager at OSCIA.

Another new aspect of the GSP is Conservation Agreements between funded producers and Environment and Climate Change Canada, signed for up to three years. These agreements aim to provide habitat protection for sensitive grassland birds while providing producers a funding guarantee for multi-year projects. Applications for GSP are entirely digital and must be completed online. To apply, visit the OSCIA website at www.ontariosoilcrop.org/oscia-programs/sarpal/gsp.

Funding for the Grassland Stewardship Program is provided through Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL), an Environment and Climate Change Canada initiative. GSP is delivered by OSCIA.

For more information on the Grassland Stewardship Program, visit the OSCIA website or contact OSCIA directly at 226-706-8668 or SARPAL@ontariosoilcrop.org.

Media Contact: Laura Van Vliet

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