Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada pro­tects 800 hectares in Al­berta’s foothills

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - CON­TRIB­UTED

The Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada (NCC) has an­nounced the pro­tec­tion of an 811-hectare (2,000acre) por­tion of the White Moose Ranch, lo­cated just west of the Town of Turner Val­ley.

A con­ser­va­tion agree­ment with NCC has been placed on the prop­erty. This agree­ment vol­un­tar­ily re­stricts the devel­op­ment rights on the prop­erty. This por­tion of White Moose Ranch will now be kept in­tact for the long term, al­low­ing the landowner to con­tinue op­er­at­ing his cat­tle ranch while main­tain­ing the land­scape in a nat­u­ral, healthy, un-frag­mented state.

The rolling foothills of south­west­ern Al­berta are fac­ing in­creas­ing pres­sure from ur­ban de­vel­op­ers. The lo­ca­tion of this prop­erty is highly de­sir­able due to its pic­turesque scenery and ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the city of Cal­gary.

The south­ern foothills are a pri­or­ity for NCC’s con­ser­va­tion work, as this re­gion is one of the last pieces of rel­a­tively in­tact fes­cue grass­lands in the province.

It is es­ti­mated that less than five per cent of na­tive fes­cue grass­lands re­main in Canada, mak­ing this area one of the most threat­ened re­gions in the coun­try.

White Moose Ranch is ad­ja­cent to the Sheep River and lo­cated in the head­wa­ters re­gion of south­ern Al­berta. The head­wa­ter area cov­ers only four per cent of the province but pro­vides fresh drink­ing wa­ter to 45 per cent of Al­ber­tans.

For landowner Stan Carscallen, the pro­tec­tion of this part of his beloved ranch is a dream come true. Carscallen grew up on his fam­ily’s ranch just south of Prid­dis, and as a young man he rode horse­back across this con­served prop­erty and ad­mired the nat­u­ral land­scape.

Carscallen pur­chased the land in 1992 and op­er­ates a com­mer­cial beef cat­tle op­er­a­tion on the ranch. The con­ser­va­tion agree­ment will al­low the cat­tle op­er­a­tion to con­tinue while re­mov­ing the pres­sure to ever sub­di­vide the prop­erty or de­velop it.

This pro­ject was made pos­si­ble thanks to the gen­eros­ity of Stan Carscallen, his wife, Eva Friesen, and his sons, Brock and Gavin Carscallen. Other sup­port­ers in­clude the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta’s Land Stew­ard­ship Grant, and the Gov­ern­ment of Canada, through the Nat­u­ral Ar­eas Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram.

“From the day our White Moose Ranch first ac­quired this breath­tak­ing prop­erty in 1992, I knew that we needed to find a way to pre­serve it in its nat­u­ral state. We share a three-mile bound­ary on our south side with the OH Ranch," ex­plained Stan Carscallen, landowner. "Over the years, I fre­quently spoke with our friend, Doc Sea­man, about re­al­iz­ing a mu­tual dream of work­ing to­gether to cre­ate a sin­gle, con­tigu­ous block of con­served land ex­tend­ing from the High­wood River to the Sheep River that could never be de­vel­oped or sub­di­vided. This do­na­tion com­pletes that dream, and my fam­ily and I are proud to be part of that ac­com­plish­ment.”

A por­tion of this pro­ject was do­nated to NCC un­der the Gov­ern­ment of Canada’s Eco­log­i­cal Gifts Pro­gram, which pro­vides en­hanced tax in­cen­tives for in­di­vid­u­als or cor­po­ra­tions who do­nate eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant land.

This part of White Moose Ranch fea­tures a mix of na­tive foothills fes­cue grass­lands, mon­tane forests and ri­par­ian (water­side) ar­eas that pro­vide habi­tat for wide-rang­ing mam­mals.

It pro­vides year-round habi­tat for elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, cougar, gray wolf, coy­ote, and bald and golden ea­gles. Griz­zly bears, which are listed un­der the Species at Risk Act as Spe­cial Con­cern, are of­ten seen on White Moose Ranch.

Other species that have been sighted on the prop­erty in­clude moun­tain sheep, Canada lynx, wolver­ine, Amer­i­can bad­ger, red-tailed hawk and great horned owl.

The Sheep River, which bor­ders the north­ern edge of this part of the ranch, pro­vides im­por­tant habi­tat for fish, in­clud­ing bull trout, a provin­cial species of spe­cial con­cern, and west­s­lope cut­throat trout, both of which are listed as threat­ened un­der the Species at Risk Act.

“The White Moose Ranch is a fan­tas­tic ex­am­ple of how work­ing land­scapes and con­ser­va­tion go hand in hand. Thanks to the gen­eros­ity of the Carscallen fam­ily and the sup­port of our donors and part­ners, the White Moose Ranch is now part of a land­scape of con­ser­va­tion prop­er­ties that have cre­ated a wildlife cor­ri­dor be­tween the High­wood and Sheep rivers.

This im­por­tant prop­erty will con­tinue to pro­vide habi­tat to the na­tive plants and an­i­mals that live along Al­berta’s eastern slopes," ex­plained Bob Demul­der, Re­gional Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada.

“I’m proud of our gov­ern­ment’s work to con­serve Al­berta’s in­cred­i­ble land­scapes," added Shan­non Phillips, Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment and Parks. "We are pre­serv­ing crit­i­cal habi­tat and safe­guard­ing these ar­eas for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. I would like to thank the gen­er­ous Al­berta landown­ers who are work­ing with land trust or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada to sup­port con­ser­va­tion ef­forts on their prop­erty.”

Facts

• The eastern slopes of Al­berta con­tain the last one per cent of the Cana­dian Great Plains that re­main in­tact and still have enough space and habi­tat to sus­tain all of the species that his­tor­i­cally roamed the grass­lands, in­clud­ing bears, wolves, cougars and their prey.

• This ranch is di­rectly ad­ja­cent or in close prox­im­ity to many other pri­vately and pub­licly pro­tected ar­eas, in­clud­ing the OH Ranch Her­itage Ran­ge­land. To­gether, these ar­eas have cre­ated a mas­sive block of con­ser­va­tion lands that cre­ate a wildlife cor­ri­dor ap­prox­i­mately eight kilo­me­tres wide and 10 kilo­me­tres long, be­tween the High­wood and Sheep rivers and ad­ja­cent to Kananaskis Coun­try.

• Each work­ing ranch con­served in this re­gion ben­e­fits the ranch­ing com­mu­nity, na­tive wildlife and Al­berta’s head­wa­ters. NCC’s con­ser­va­tion agree­ment on this sig­nif­i­cant stretch of work­ing ran­ge­land will as­sist in the con­ser­va­tion of wa­ter qual­ity, flood mit­i­ga­tion and the main­te­nance of an im­por­tant water­shed along Al­berta’s south­ern foothills.

• To learn more about the Eco­log­i­cal Gifts Pro­gram, please visit ec.gc.ca/pde-egp

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