Robert Berdan

Alberta

Number of projects: 4

Land value: Land value is the appraised value of land that NCC has conserved directly and with partners. $11,551,720

Acres conserved: 2,406

Stewardship volunteers: 782

Bunchberry Meadows officially conserved

NCC

When Max Berretti came to Canada more than 55 years ago, he fell in love with its unique and special wild spaces. In 1974, he and four other families purchased a parcel of land bordering Edmonton, near the Devonian Botanic Garden. For 40 years the families cared for the land, protecting important habitat for moose and numerous other species.

The property is now surrounded by acreages, airports, roadways, bridges and industrial habitat.

When the decision to sell the land was made, the family members approached the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to try and find a way to ensure the long-term conservation of the property. Incredibly, these five families came together and agreed to sell their land for half of its appraised value in order to ensure it would be conserved for the people of Edmonton region of see, enjoy and connect with nature. Without this generous decision, this project would not have materialized.

The campaign to conserve Bunchberry Meadows was launched in 2015. NCC’s Alberta Region recently announced the securement of Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area — a 640-acre (259-hectare) property located just 30 minutes from downtown Edmonton.

NCC and the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) acquired the property together and will collaborate on its ongoing management, including conducting wildlife species inventories, installing bird boxes and hosting public volunteer activities to steward the site.

Historic 135-year-old Oxley Ranch conserved

NCC

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.

MiMedia and NCC partner to create Alberta content for National Geographic Wild

Brian Keating at Going Wild screening (NCC)

The picturesque eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Alberta are home to some of Canada’s most iconic species. Wolf, bear and cougar roam the landscape, coexisting with the area’s ranchers.

To capture this quintessentially Canadian area on film, so that others may experience it, MiMedia and NCC partnered to create an episode that will feature as part of a series on National Geographic Wild, hosted by long-time NCC supporter and world-renowned naturalist, Brian Keating. The episode, part of the Going Wild series, illustrates the importance and majesty of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Alberta.

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 the country, making this area one of the most threatened regions of Canada. This small piece of pristine wilderness also contains the last one per cent of the Northern Great Plains that still has a full complement of wildlife.

Thirteen hardy individuals braved -16 degree temperatures on March 11 to help clean up old wooden corrals from Bunchberry Meadows, making this the earliest Conservation Volunteers event ever.