The Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Canada became a signatory of the Ramsar Convention in 1981 and the Quill Lakes were designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1987.
Patricia Farnese, an associate professor of law at the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in property, agriculture and wildlife law, recently attended the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. At this conference, Professor Farnese was able to highlight the alarming mismanagement of the Quill Lakes flooding crisis. In a media release, Professor Farnese states “Despite expectations that Ramsar Information Sheets be updated every 6 years, Canada last submitted an update on the Quill Lakes in 2001. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment of the Quill Lakes is long overdue.”
The Quill Lakes are a migratory bird concentration site that provides breeding, moulting and staging habitat for numerous species of shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl. The Quill Lakes are utilized by the endangered Piping Plover and Whooping Crane. Horned and Western Grebes are also found within the Quill Lakes basin. Both of these species are designated as of special concern, by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
Grasslands surrounding the Quill Lakes also provide habitat for numerous passerine and raptor species. Threatened species such as; the Sprague’s Pipit, Bobolink, Barn Swallow and Ferruginous Hawk have all been identified within the uplands adjacent to the Quill Lakes
Plant species are also being affected by the flooding. Dwarf Spike-rush, Large Yellow Lady’s-slipper, Red Elderberry, and Bristly Gooseberry have been identified within the local area. All of these species are ranked as imperiled/very rare by the province of Saskatchewan.
Since its formation, the Quill Lakes Watershed Association has independently undertaken numerous projects to try to find a solution to mitigate the effects of the flooding crisis. The association has corresponded with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Security Agency on numerous occasions but little action has been taken by the provincial government.
The Quill Lakes Watershed Association will continue to collaborate with regulatory agencies, non-profit organizations, agricultural producers and members of the public to restore and protect the Quill Lakes for present and future generations.