Welsch Ranch, Southern Foothills, Alberta (Photo by Brent Calver)

Welsch Ranch, Southern Foothills, Alberta (Photo by Brent Calver)

Our top conservation successes of 2016 from across Canada

Clayoquot Island Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

Clayoquot Island Preserve, BC (Photo by NCC)

This year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has a lot to celebrate. From January 2016 until the end of November of this year, NCC has conserved an additional 15,294 acres (6189 hectares) coast to coast. Across Canada, we have hosted countless Conservation Volunteers events. With the support of volunteers, shorelines were cleaned, population surveys were conducted, native species were planted…the list goes on! All in all, we have marked another great year for conservation.

Below is a breakdown of some of our top successes for 2016, coast to coast. To learn even more, read our 2015-16 Annual Report.

British Columbia

SRL-K2 Ranch Conservation Area breaks BC record

We kicked off 2016 with the establishment of BC’s largest conservation agreement to date, in support of the SRL-K2 Ranch Conservation Area. The ranch’s owners, Barb and Bob Shaunessy, spent years restoring the grasslands; an effort that culminated in a partnership with NCC to conserve more than 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) of grassland habitat in the Columbia Valley.

Clayoquot Island Preserve entrusted to NCC

After two decades of caring for the Clayoquot Island Preserve, Susan Bloom donated the wild portion of her island to us, to ensure it would remain in its natural state forever. We are delighted to now own and manage this 93-acre (38-hectare) preserve, which features old-growth and mature coastal western hemlock forest, white sand beaches and a rocky coastline, located just a short boat ride from Tofino.

Weather is no match for Conservation Volunteers

Conservation Volunteers in British Columbia come out in all seasons and all weather to help restore and steward our conservation areas. In 2016, we were joined by hundreds of committed volunteers at more than 75 events.


Conserving Welsch Ranch

This year, the Alberta Region was proud to announce the conservation of Welsch Ranch — a 3,034-acre (1,228-hectare) ranch in Alberta’s scenic Porcupine Hills. Protected in perpetuity through a conservation agreement established by landowners Reno and Corine Welsch, this partnership will help maintain the region as a healthy working landscape.

Conservation Volunteers at the Waldron, AB (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers at the Waldron, AB (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers: 10 years of hard work

It takes a lot of teamwork to care for Canada’s special places, and this year, Alberta’s Conservation Volunteers program celebrated 10 years of people-powered conservation! Since the program launched in 2006, more than 3,000 dedicated volunteers have donated more than 22,000 hours of hands-on conservation time.


Old Man on His Back ranch celebrates its 20th anniversary

Buffalo, Old Man on his Back Ranch, Saskatchewan (Photo by NCC)

Buffalo, Old Man on his Back Ranch, Saskatchewan (Photo by NCC)

This year marked 20 years since we secured the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB), donated by Peter and Sharon Butala. OMB is a 13,095-acre (5,300-hectare) property located in southwest Saskatchewan. It’s home to several species at risk. A lot has happened in the past two decades. In 2003, we introduced a herd of 50 genetically pure plains bison, and in 2015, the property was designated a nocturnal preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society.

NCC receives almost $1M in unprecedented grassland habitat offset

This donation from K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) was the first offset for grasslands ever to happen in Saskatchewan and our hope is to encourage other companies to give for conservation efforts. The grassland habitat offset is meant to account for the grasslands on which K+S will be developing a mine on.. KSPC voluntarily agreed to be the first company in Saskatchewan to use a new offset formula developed by the provincial Ministry of Environment.


Assiniboine Delta, welcome to the NCC Manitoba family

The Manitoba Region’s newest conservation priority area as of June, 2016, the Assiniboine Delta, is where the vast prairies of southern Manitoba meet northern boreal relics. The unique sand hill communities and extensive open dunes, which now characterize the region, are some of the last refuges in Manitoba where rare sand hill species persist.  

Celebrating conservation’s past and future

On November 4, 2016, our Manitoba Region gathered donors, partners and staff in Winnipeg for an evening to celebrate our conservation successes. It was also an opportunity to imagine what the future of conservation holds in Manitoba.  


A happy time for forest conservation

White trilliums in Happy Valley Forest, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

White trilliums in Happy Valley Forest, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

The Happy Valley Forest is one of the largest remaining intact deciduous forests on Canada’s Oak Ridges Moraine. This 1,560-acre (631-hectare) area is best identified by its outstanding mature sugar maple and beech forest. The Glen Echo and Deep Woods properties, as they are known, add 116 acres (47 hectares) to the existing protected area. The properties feature ancient trees and shelter many provincially and federally identified rare species. Conserving these lands helps us expand a crucial wildlife corridor that reaches north toward Pottageville Swamp and links several Oak Ridges Moraine properties.

Conservation Volunteers make a difference, one tree at a time

On Friday, September 23, 2016, six volunteers, along with four of our staff, gathered at the Edenvale Conservation Area, just north of Minesing, Ontario. The group was there to participate in a Conservation Volunteers event, enjoy Canada’s great outdoors and give back to nature. These enthusiastic nature enthusiasts helped plant 300 native trees to enhance and expand the riparian (border between land and a body of water) zone along the Nottawasaga River. The small but mighty team of 10 quickly became a well-oiled tree-planting machine. The conveniently pre-augured holes meant they had time and energy to learn about the Minesing Wetlands’ ecology and recreation opportunities. The volunteers also learned how to identify certain tree species, and learned about each other as they worked. Species planted included red maple, white oak, hackberry, nannyberry and highbush cranberry, among many others.


Protecting and discovering the Laurentians

NCC and its partners released a Master Plan for the Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, which was finalized in 2016. This plan strikes a balance between public accessibility and land protection; visitors are encouraged to the area, while keeping conservation, research discovery and development in mind.

Students get a chance to get their hands dirty and reconnect with nature (Photo by Sandy Nicholson Photography)

Students get a chance to get their hands dirty and reconnect with nature (Photo by Sandy Nicholson Photography)

Young biologists discover birds and flora

Around 30 children in a Montreal summer camp became biologists-in-training on July 20, 2016, during a Nature Days event in the Laurentian region. The event was organized by NCC and HSBC Bank Canada.

Equipped with magnifying glasses, binoculars and sketchbooks, the students set off in search of birds of prey in the escarpments, and learned to identify plants along the trail.

Conserving unique turtle habitat

We announced the conservation of an additional 123 acres (50 hectares) of land in Outaouais, one of the most naturally diverse regions in Quebec. We began conservation efforts in this area in 2002. This region shelters more than 15 species at risk. In addition to this expansion, we launched an interactive platform for reporting turtle sightings in the region.

New Brunswick

A decade of conservation in the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area

Musquash Estuary, NB (Photo by NCC)

Musquash Estuary, NB (Photo by NCC)

In July 2016, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area, near Saint John, New Brunswick — the first Marine Protected Area in Atlantic Canada. We have protected more than 4,200 acres (1,670 hectares) of forest, wetland and coastline at the Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve. We continue to conserve more properties in the area. Also during the summer, we used Google Trekker to highlight one of our popular trails at Musquash.

Prince Edward Island

NCC conserves Holman’s Island

Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by Sean Landsman)

Holman's Island, PEI (Photo by Sean Landsman)

Once the home of PEI’s first summer resort, this 90-acre (36-hectare) island now belongs to NCC. The island’s mature Acadian forest, wide beaches and large salt marsh host many different types of birds, including the endangered red knot. In peak season, up to 2,000 Canada geese and 1,000 Atlantic brants may also be found here. Holman’s Island can be seen from downtown Summerside, and is a popular destination for hikers and kayakers.

Nova Scotia

Provincially rare cedars protected near Pugwash

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

On Earth Day, we celebrated the conservation of a special forest near the Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve. This new property features more than 600 magnificent and provincially rare eastern white cedars. It is one of only a handful of cedar forests in Nova Scotia. The 416-acre (167-hectare) property was donated to us by Bonnyman and Byers, a family owned and conservation-minded forestry company.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Putting Canada’s largest provincial island on the map

NCC-protected areas on the Island of Newfoundland received a great deal of media interest in August, when the Google Trekker project came to St John’s and Port aux Basques. Our Newfoundland and Labrador staff helped carry the Trekker 10 kilometres across the rugged and hilly East Coast Trail, between Maddox Cove and Cape Spear. On a separate trip to the west coast, staff helped carry the Trekker along a shorter, gentler trail in the spectacular Codroy Valley.

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