The Conversation Has Begun! - posted: 2013-10-18

Conservation Caravan: A new film shows how Alberta beef can help endangered wildlife

A new short film – the Conservation Caravan – was released this week by Operation Grassland Community (OGC), and shows consumers that eating meat can have critical, positive impacts on protection of endangered prairie wildlife and their habitats right here in Alberta. “Most people don’t realize that the grassland region is one of the most endangered habitats in Canada,” Mara Erickson, Communications Director with Operation Grassland Community, remarks. “And, while Alberta’s Grassland Region makes up only 14% of our province’s landmass, it is home to a shocking 75% of our species at risk.” The Conservation Caravan aims to stir up conversation around the fact that ranching may prove to be the best bet for long-term sustainability of our grassland landscape – a landscape that evolved with grazing bison, and so thrives today with grazing cattle. In other words, eating meat can be environmentally friendly.

In just under 12 minutes, the Conservation Caravan takes the viewer on a ranch to ranch road-trip. Bumping along throughout southern Alberta in a retro-VW van, they visit 5 ranches and hear the real-life stories of ranching men and women. These five Conservation Caravan ranches are just a sample of the individuals that OGC works with. Although they range from well-established, multi-generational ranches to brand-new enterprises, from conventional operations to grass-finished and direct marketed, Alberta’s ranchers have this in common: they not only respect and value the landscape and wildlife it supports, but they steward that land and wildlife as well.

Through the Conservation Caravan, OGC is reaching beyond rural fence-lines to tell this story of stewardship to the urban consumer. Says Kerry Grisley, OGC’s Executive Director, “This film is definitely not trying to tell consumers what to do, or that livestock production isn’t without issues or concerns; but, neither is it trying to point fingers or lay blame.” The film intends only to point to ranching’s essential role in the protection and recovery of a significantly endangered landscape. “We hope that the Conservation Caravan adds some critical information to what is already a big conversation around food – that what we eat, and what we pay for what we eat, has direct implications on how well the producers of our food can steward our environment.”

Operation Grassland Community is a non-profit environmental conservation program of the Alberta Fish and Game Association and has been hard at work for over two decades collaborating with ranchers in rural Alberta to protect and enhance prairie wildlife habitats for species at risk.
For more information on the Conservation Caravan and to join the growing conversation, visit www.grasslandcommunity.org and follow them on twitter @OGC_AB. Contact: Mara Erickson, Communications Director (mara.e.erickson@gmail.com); Kerry Grisley, Executive Director (kerry@afga.org)