Nature Conservancy of Canada protects 2,000 acres in Alberta’s foothills
(Calgary, Alberta) The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has announced the protection of an 811-hectare (2,000-acre) 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. 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.
“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. 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.” -Stan Carscallen, landowner
“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.” -Bob Demulder, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“I’m proud of our government’s work to conserve Alberta’s incredible landscapes. 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.” -Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
“On behalf of my colleague, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I am very pleased to congratulate the Carscallen family, NCC and their partners on conserving over 800 hectares of important wildlife habitat in the Alberta foothills. Protecting nature for future generations is extremely important to our government. Thanks, in part, to initiatives like the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Ecological Gifts Program, we are significantly increasing the amount of protected nature in Canada.” -Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre
• 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, creating 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
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading private, not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
The Government of Alberta created the Alberta Land Trust Grant program in 2011 — a program designed to support land trusts such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in the purchase of conservation agreements on ecologically significant landscapes and donations of land with high conservation value.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.