CALGARY, Sept. 11, 2013 /CNW/ - The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announces a historic agreement that will conserve the 30,535-acre (12,357 hectare) Waldron Ranch on Alberta's Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
This agreement, once finalized, will allow NCC to purchase a conservation easement from the Waldron Grazing Cooperative Ltd., which represents 72 cattle ranchers in southern Alberta.
The conservation easement means that while the Co-op will continue to own and ranch the land, NCC will work with shareholders to ensure the property's natural values are conserved for the benefit of wildlife and future generations. Waldron's critical lands and waters will remain intact and the area will be protected forever against development, subdivision, cultivation or drainage.
The conservation organization is leading efforts to conserve the last remaining intact landscapes along the Eastern Slopes—remnants of the massive Great Plains that once stretched 1,300 kilometres from the Rocky Mountains to Winnipeg. Today this area in south west Alberta is a "working" ranch landscape as well as being important habitat for native Alberta grasslands plus grizzly and black bear, elk, moose, cougar, deer, eagle, hawks and a variety of grassland birds.
NCC has launched a fundraising campaign that will complete its $37.5 million (total) purchase of the conservation easement. NCC must raise an additional $3 million in donations from the public in order to protect the Waldron Ranch. When complete it will be the largest conservation easement in Canadian history.
"Success in conserving the Waldron means there is hope for keeping the Eastern Slopes agriculturally productive, ecologically functional and inspiring for present and future generations, "said Larry Simpson, Associate Regional Vice President, Alberta Region, Nature Conservancy of Canada. "This is a unique opportunity for Albertans and Canadians to contribute to a natural legacy that will last for future generations."
"The essence of what we risk losing to development is not a species here or a species there, but a quality of life, the largeness and wildness that make this part of Alberta remarkable," said Susan Church, Chair, Alberta Board, Nature Conservancy of Canada.
"The Waldron Grazing Co-op is partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to provide NCC an opportunity to ensure that future generations can continue the tradition of stewardship and care for the land as the Waldron has done exceptionally well for the past 51 years," said Tim Nelson, Board Chair, Waldron Grazing Co-operative Ltd.
- The Waldron Ranch is located along the historic Cowboy Trail, one of the most inspirational landscapes in Canada.
- The Waldron is a key piece to the ever-fragmenting conservation puzzle and a significant wildlife corridor, with the Whaleback situated to the west and the Porcupine Hill Forest Reserve to the East.
- This spectacular landscape is over 30 kilometres long and straddles Highway 22 south of Longview.
- The Waldron project will assist in protecting the headwaters of critical streams and rivers (including the Old Man River) that ultimately flow through the Canadian Prairies on which millions of Canadians and countless wildlife depend.
- It is the first time NCC has successfully engaged a rancher-owned cooperative in negotiating a conservation easement.
To help conserve the Waldron and the Eastern Slopes visit: www.conservewaldron.ca
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (1 million hectares), coast to coast.
To learn more visit: www.natureconservancy.ca
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SOURCE: Nature Conservancy of Canada
For further information:
Manager of Communications
Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region
Cell: 403-826-2029 Office: 403-262-2496