Historic 135-year-old Oxley Ranch conserved
When Jennifer Barr was four years old, she and her family moved to the Oxley Ranch in southern Alberta. Her mother, Willa, married Jim Gordon, who gave Jennifer an old horse and a saddle with silver spots. Jennifer grew up riding that faithful horse, exploring the land and establishing a deep appreciation for the ranch she called home.
Over the years, Jim taught her the history of the land and told her stories about the people that had lived there and about the sacrifices their family had made in order to stay there.
Ranching is not an easy way to earn a living. With urban development expanding into the picturesque mountain foothills, there is increasing pressure from subdivision and real estate development.
With the future of their beloved ranch anything but certain, Jennifer and her family looked for a solution to ensure the long-term survival of the Oxley Ranch.
On March 28, 2017, the conservation of the Oxley Ranch was announced. The conservation agreement Jennifer’s mother put on the land with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) guarantees that the Barr family can stay and continue earning a living on the ranch that has supported their ancestors since 1919.
The ranch is located in close proximity to several other properties conserved by NCC, including the Welsch Ranch, Waldron Ranch and King Ranch.
All of these ranches feature important grasslands, and are also located in the headwaters region of southern Alberta — an area that covers only four per cent of the province, but provides fresh drinking water to 45 per cent of Albertans. In addition to supporting ranching families as well as the native species that rely on this habitat, native grasslands such as the one at Oxley play an important role in helping to mitigate the impacts of drought and floods by storing water.
“Working with NCC has given me a great comfort knowing that the land will be protected long after we have all crossed the great divide,” said Jennifer.
The completion of this project was funded in part by the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Land Trust Grant Program, and by the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.