The endangered orchids of Stuartburn continue to be a source of struggle for many local farmers but the Provincial Government remains unwavering in their ruling.
The community of Vita is the last place in the country where the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid still grows. As indicated by the Endangered Species Act, places where these flowers are growing are illegal to touch or tamper with. Much to the annoyance of many Vita residents, this means a farmer cannot plow their field where these orchids are present.
In a statement sent to Steinbach Online, a spokesperson for Manitoba Sustainable Development said this: “We appreciate that this may seem like a hardship to some local landowners and a point of pride for others, but this is the only place in Canada where these flowers can be found. As such, they are afforded provincial and federal environmental protection.”
While provincial representatives are more than willing to come out and map or flag the regions where the flowers grow, they are unwilling to offer an exemption from the rule.
“That protection applies to the plants wherever they occur, regardless of the reason someone may want to destroy the individual plants or the habitat on which they rely. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever and the legislation is written to prevent that destruction.”
The province has already fined one farmer for failing to adhere to this legislation and will continue to monitor the RM of Stuartburn to prevent other infringements. According to the provincial spokesperson, the fine amount is up to the discretion of the court, with a maximum penalty of $50,000 per offense.
Manitoba Sustainable Development stresses that the sustenance of endangered and at-risk species requires support from everyone, regardless of their disposition.
Read more: Flower Power: How Orchids In Stuartburn Are Holding The Farmland Hostage