NCC protects key ranch land in Alberta’s Castle Crown Natural Area

Bald eagle in Castle Crown Natural Area – Alberta. (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Pincher Creek – Last week, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Alberta Region, announced protection of a 536-hectare Alberta Ranch in the Castle Crown Natural Area.

The Alberta Ranch property represents an ecologically significant area that is home to important plant and animal species at risk. It also is high-value habitat for grizzly bear, black bear, cougar, golden eagle and bald eagle. The transitional nature of the Foothills region, where grasslands meet the Rocky Mountains, results in a mosaic of vegetation communities, microclimates and ecological riches.

Straddling two different sub-regions, it consists of riparian areas and wetlands, native grassland and mature forests. It is important for overwintering elk and deer, provides habitat for wide-ranging carnivores, and will protect a large, unfragmented tract of deeded land.

“Conserving Alberta Ranch is another step to ensure that some of the best native habitat in the area is conserved for the benefit of biodiversity and future generations,” said Bob Demulder, Vice-President, Alberta Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Not only is this property ecologically significant, its historical value is important to both the province and its people.”

NCC celebrates landowners Cheryl and Steve Maunsell who have donated a portion of the conservation easement, worth $1,000,000.

In 2011, the Government of Alberta created the Alberta Land Trust Grant program – a program designed to support land trusts such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in the purchase or partial purchase of conservation easements on ecologically significant landscapes such as Alberta Ranch.

This project was also completed with funding from the Government of Canada-Nature Conservancy of Canada Natural Areas Conservation Program – a unique public-private partnership that helps non-government organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the protection of our country’s diverse ecosystems, wildlife and habitat. As of December 2011, the Natural Areas Conservation Program has protected 327,758 hectares of habitat, which includes habitat for 117 species at risk.