Posts Tagged "Nature Conservancy"

Waldron Ranch, AB protected for future generations

Posted by on 28. December 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, Ranching | Comments Off on Waldron Ranch, AB protected for future generations

Waldron Ranch, AB protected for future generations

Earlier this fall, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) secured the largest conservation easement in Canadian history. This outstanding agreement between the NCC and Waldron Grazing Co-operative Ltd. will protect over 12,357 hectares (30,535 acres) of native grasslands and forested foothills on Waldron Ranch in southwestern Alberta. This spectacular property is located northwest of Lethbridge, along the famed ‘Cowboy Trail’ (Highway 22) between Longview and Lundbreck. The ranch contains large tracts of native fescue prairie, rich history and spectacular scenery. Situated in a broad valley, Waldron connects the 28,000 hectare Bob Creek Wildland Park (the Whaleback) to the west with the 39,000 hectare Porcupine Hills Forest Preserve to the east. The three conservation areas will protect the critical headwaters of streams and rivers flowing east through the Canadian Prairies, and provide habitat and critical movement corridors for local wildlife such as grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, moose and elk.     By securing the conservation easement with the Waldron Grazing Co-operative, NCC will work with the partners to ensure the property’s natural features are preserved for the benefit of wildlife and future generations. Waldron’s diverse habitats will remain preserved, and the lands will be protected from development, subdivision, cultivation or drainage. Seventy-two members of the Waldron Co-op will continue to own and raise livestock on the working ranch. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between a grantor (landowner) and a holder (in this case the NCC) that is registered against the title and binds all future owners. Terms of the agreement are negotiated between the interested parties, to meet the conservation objectives of the owner and goals of the holder. The main objective is protection of biological, physical or cultural features of the land. Conservation easements are usually initiated by a current landowner, who wants to make sure that the land will continue to have careful stewardship by the future owners. The Waldron Cattle Ranch Ltd. was established in 1883 by Duncan McNab McEachran of Montreal, with financial backing by Sir John Waldron of England. The original ranch was a giant of ranching industry, spanning 260,000 acres of land between Oldman River and Porcupine Hills. At times, more than 20,000 head of cattle and hundreds of horses were raised on the ranch. After changing owners several times, a much smaller holding was purchased in 1962 by a newly formed co-operative. More than 50 years later, members of the Waldron Grazing Co-operative manage the land with a primary goal of maintaining health of the rangeland under their care. The Waldron Co-operative received the 2010 Alberta Beef Producers’ Environmental Stewardship Award and the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association in recognition of management practices that ensure a sustainable use of resources, rangeland health and wildlife management. I had an opportunity to visit Waldron twice: in the summer of 2009 and again in 2010. I was thrilled by the beauty of landscape and incredible ecological diversity. Gently rolling hills, lush fescue grasslands, dense carpets of blooming prairie wildflowers and abundant wildlife just called for happy snaps. Here is a small gallery of images captured during those two trips. I owe gratitude to Mike Roberts, General Manager of the Waldron Ranch for outstanding hospitality, and for enabling me to explore and photograph on the land.   Misty morning over pasture at sunrise. Waldron Grazing Cooperative, Lundbreck, Alberta Pasture with prairie lillies. Prairie vegetation changes with the elevation – there are areas on Waldron Ranch where one can see spruce and fir trees. Waldron Grazing Coopeative, Lundbreck, Alberta Pasture at sunrise. Waldron Grazing Cooperative, Lundbreck, Alberta Pasture with wildflowers in bloom. This prairie...

Read More

Old Man on His Back – Nature Conservancy seeks conservation volunteers

Posted by on 4. August 2012 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Old Man on His Back – Nature Conservancy seeks conservation volunteers

Old Man on His Back – Nature Conservancy seeks conservation volunteers

Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting another exciting Conservation Volunteer event at their flagship conservation property in Saskatchewan, the Old Man on his Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area near Claydon (southwest of Eastend). Just a few weeks ago I attended a Conservation Volunteer  event at the NCC Maymont property and really enjoyed it. This 3-day event will run over the weekend of August 10-12, 2012 and is full of activities: bird, mammal and wildflower surveys and help with the management of the Plains Bison conservation herd. In the evening, participants will be able to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower  in an environment with minimal light pollution. Food and snacks will be provided and you can come for the whole weekend or participate in daily programs. Camping is available on-site. The OMB site also has a very nice interpretive centre where you can learn about the history of ranching in the area (and a lot of other stuff for kids to explore). Here is an email that I received promoting the event. Just follow the links to register for individual programs. Unfortunately, I will be in Europe visiting my family until mid August and will not be able to participate. Information provided by NCC: Old Man on His Back is near Claydon, between Grassland National Park and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. It has sweeping vistas of the open prairie, incredible sunrises and sunsets, and an abundance of wildflowers and grassland birds. A herd of Plains Bison have been reintroduced in this area and Pronghorn Antelope are often sighted! Imperiled species such as the Burrowing Owl and Ferruginous Hawk are sometimes seen. Volunteers can stay for the whole weekend and camp at Old Man on his Back, or they can simply come out for a day or two. Meals and snacks will be provided! This weekend is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, and with Old Man on His Back’s open skies with no light pollution, it will be a great place to spend the weekend watching the skies at night. Plains Bison Ranch Hands will be on Friday, August 10. We will be helping to manage the Plains Bison herd by enhancing the bison handling facilities and in doing a bison calf count! On Saturday, August 11, we will be having Green Grass and Gone Weeds event. We will be surveying steel fence posts for nesting birds, as well as removing invasive plants and old equipment and debris. A short workshop on range health assessment will also be taking place! On Sunday, August 12, we will finish the weekend with Life in a Grassland Understory. Permanent transects for breeding bird surveys will be put in place, and we will also give these transects a test run! As well, there will be small mammal surveys taking place!  ...

Read More

Maymont – a new Nature Conservancy property in Saskatchewan

Posted by on 27. July 2012 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | 2 comments

Maymont – a new Nature Conservancy property in Saskatchewan

Last Sunday I joined members of the Saskatoon Nature Society on a field trip to one of the newest protected areas managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We visited the Maymont property, which includes several sections of land along 5.5 km of riverbank on the south side of North Saskatchewan River near Maymont bridge. NCC secured the land over the last few years, with several large sections being purchased this spring. Currently, the organization manages approximately 3,500 acres of diverse plant communities of native grasslands, aspen parkland, heavily wooded area along the river bank, and a small wetland. We were taking part in the NCC Conservation Volunteer program, helping make an inventory of plants and animals on the property. The day before, members of the Native Plant Society did an inventory of plants in the same area. NCC runs the program throughout Saskatchewan and it is a great way to get outdoors, learn something new about nature from experts lading the trips (no previous experience is required), and contribute to a worthy cause. The Maymont property is a great place. I have visited it before, working on a project to photograph the NCC properties in Saskatchewan (see a gallery of images on the “old” web site. Here is one image from last September: There area spectacular views over the North Saskatchewan River valley from the north edge of the property. Native grasslands at Maymont property are in good shape, especially with the wet spring and summer we have had this year. Prairie wildflowers were in bloom everywhere and I was amazed with the richness and diversity of plant life. We saw a lot of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and mushrooms. We saw a Northern Goshawk, Bald Eagle circling over the river, Veery and an American Redstart. And a few other interesting bird species. Below are a few images from the trip. An added bonus for me was a small herd of longhorn cattle that ran through the pasture right by out group. I managed to snap a few images as they thundered over the hill.    ...

Read More