Branimir Gjetvaj

Saskatchewan

Number of projects: During this period, NCC also funded the relinquishment of 82,313 acres (33,311 hectares) of timber rights outside the new Birch River Wildland Park in Alberta. These rights were cancelled by the provincial government and will only be re-issued for ecological purposes. 6

Land value: Land value is the fair market value as determined by independent appraisal. $2,245,000

Acres conserved: 3,194

Stewardship volunteers: 153

Bioblitz participants discover 10 at-risk species

Steve Zack

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) identified the presence of 10 at-risk species during a bioblitz held by NCC staff and volunteers on our large Wideview Complex last summer. Wideview is a major conservation project in southwest Saskatchewan, covering 3,021 acres (1,222 hectares) of rolling hills and native grasslands in the Milk River Basin Natural Area.

Bioblitzes are day-long biological surveys to document all of the species found on a property. This information is used to make decisions on how best to manage habitat for those species.

Canada’s temperate grasslands are considered the world’s most endangered ecosystem. As grassland birds in Canada have shown major declines in the past four decades, the bioblitzing team was excited to record the presence of threatened birds, such as Sprague’s pipit and the prairie subspecies of the loggerhead shrike, on Wideview.

Partners in research

Bill Caulfeild-Browne

Prescribed burns are fires that are carefully planned and closely managed. They are intended to simulate the role that wild fires once had on the prairie ecosystem.

NCC and researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), with significant contributions from the Meewasin Valley Authority, held the first in a series of prescribed burns in April 2017.

The burns are an important piece of a five-year research project taking place at NCC’s Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB). The project aims to better understand how disturbances — such as fire and grazing — influence the diversity and structure of plant communities. Spring and fall burns are tentatively planned for the area over the next three years. Learn more here >

Conservation in the classroom

NCC

Last year, a group of Kawacatoose First Nation students visited NCC’s Maymont property to plant wildflower plugs and collect seeds that would later be used in one of NCC’s restoration projects. The field trip was part of the Learning the Land program, which teaches students about native prairie conservation and species at risk from both western science and Indigenous traditional knowledge perspectives.

NCC is partnering with Treaty 4 Education Alliance schools to bring conservation into the classroom. The program consists of classroom-based learning led by teachers, along with special presentations from NCC staff and outdoor field trips. One activity included an art project facilitated by well-known Cree artist Michael Lonechild from White Bear First Nation.

Partnerships such as the Treaty 4 Education Alliance create collaboration and inspiration to increase conservation efforts across Canada and help protect our spectacular natural areas.

Did you know that shelter and nest sites are in high demand? And did you know that competition is stiff for prime holes and hollows (also known as cavities)? Many species of birds and mammals, such as bats, use them for nesting or roosting.

Bat boxes function like a naturally occurring cavity. They provide a cozy, safe spot for bats to roost and/or leave their young when they go foraging. The advantage of a bat box is that, by design, only bats can use them.

At a Conservation Volunteers event held at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) last summer, volunteers built bat boxes to put up at OMB and other NCC properties across the province.