The Alberta Land Trust Grant Program is supporting projects to protect watersheds and wildlife habitats on private land as well as keep ranchlands in tact. WineGlass Ranch owner Edith Wearmouth, Minister Shannon Phillips, Justin Thompson, executive director, Southern Alberta Land Trust Society and the Eklund family pictured in an area where an easement will protect the Jumpingpound Creek. Alberta government photo.

Alberta Land Trust Grant Program approved over $7 million for 24 projects

The Alberta Land Trust Grant Program approved more than $7 million to support 24 different projects to protect watersheds and wildlife habitats on private land and help keep ranchlands intact in the 2017-18 grant cycle.

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks says she is proud of her government’s work to conserve Alberta’s landscapes.

“We are preserving critical habitat and safeguarding these areas for future generations,” said Phillips. She added “I would like to thank the generous Alberta landowners who are working with these land trusts to support conservation efforts on their property.”

According to the government of Alberta, the grants will support projects by the Alberta Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, the Legacy Land Trust Society, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society and Western Sky Land Trust.
The Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, or SALTS, received approximately $2.6 million for five different projects, including one that will protect 1,247 acres of ecologically valuable land at the WineGlass Ranch near Cochrane and Calgary.

“The Wineglass Ranch surrounds Jumpingpound Creek, a source of Calgary’s drinking water, so keeping the property as healthy grasslands instead of roads and houses will help maintain water quality for hundreds of thousands of people,” said Justin Thompson, executive director of the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society.

The area is home to elk, deer and other large carnivores and is currently under pressure from encroaching residential development.  The land has been in the same family for over 131 years.

Ducks Unlimited Canada will receive nearly $450,000 in grant funding to enhance protection of six parcels of land in central and southern Alberta. These land parcels are made up of key prairie landscapes, including native grassland, wetland and parkland habitats.

“Conserved wetlands and their associated uplands do so much to enhance the lives of Albertans,” said Ron Maher, manager, provincial operations, Alberta, Ducks Unlimited Canada.

“Yet every day, these remarkable natural areas continue to be threatened and lost.”  Maher says that DUC is working to prevent the losses, however, the group knows it cannot succeed on its own.

“We are very appreciative of the support provided by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Land Trust Grant program which help us to work even more closely with landowners so that together we can protect these important ecological assets for generations to come.”

Two large parcels of land in southern Alberta will be conserved for future generations with a grant of more than $1.7 million for Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Both of these parcels are made up of vital native grasslands, which are under increasing pressure from development. These lands support diverse species that call southern Alberta home, including large carnivores, shorebirds and fish.

“The Land Trust Grant Program is a critically important part of the effort being made by private citizens and land trusts in Alberta to conserve the magnificent open spaces located in the settled area of Alberta,” said Larry Simpson, associate regional vice president, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“The ranch economy – which has so ably kept these big open natural spaces of Alberta intact over the past century – can no longer compete with land prices being paid for subdivision, acreage development and crop production, making initiatives like the Alberta Land Stewardship Grant Program all the more important to ensuring Albertans can see and enjoy nature near where they live.”

The Alberta Land Trust Grant Program was established in 2011 and has offered over $55.7 million in grants in support of the conservation of almost 111,000 acres of land in Alberta.

In the 2017-18 period, the program will help preserve nearly 13,000 acres of land across Alberta through legally binding conservation easements that ensure good stewardship of private land.  As well, the easements maintain biodiversity and preserve native landscapes.