Cows on the Waldron, Alberta (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Cows on the Waldron, Alberta (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

The Waldron

Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,

Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,

Conservation region: Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Region
Natural priority area: Southern Foothills

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

The Waldron Conservation Project, composed primarily of native habitat, is an area of incredible diversity, rich history and spectacular scenery. Those that drive along the ribbon of pavement known as the Cowboy Trail know this landscape well.

Established in 1883 by Duncan McNab McEachran of Montreal, with financial backing predominantly from Sir John Walrond-Walrond, the Waldron Conservation Project (Waldron) is a property in Alberta’s southern foothills, situated in a broad valley between the Bob Creek Wildland Park (the Whaleback) to the west and the Porcupine Hills Forest Reserve to the east along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

An option to acquire a conservation agreement on the 30,535-acre (12,357-hectare) Waldron lands was negotiated between the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Waldron Grazing Co-operative Ltd on April 3, 2013. History was made this day, as this was the first opportunity since the late 1800s to conserve this landscape for all time, ensuring the protection of the headwaters consisting of critical streams and rivers for the entire Canadian Prairies, which provide water for millions of Canadians and countless wildlife species.

In 2015, the Waldron Grazing Cooperative purchased the adjacent property known as the King Ranch, which extends the property of the Waldron an additional 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares). In 2016, NCC and the cooperative placed an additional easement on this property as well, therefore assuring the entire block of deeded land will remain intact and conserved for all time.

Ecological significance

The Waldron is the largest remaining block of deeded (private) land along the eastern slopes of Alberta. The rough fescue grasslands that dominate the area provide essential services, including water filtration, carbon sequestration, soil protection, and forage for both domestic and wild animals.

The property is located in the headwaters of the South Saskatchewan drainage basin, with numerous creeks and rivers such as the Oldman River flowing through it. This area provides habitat for many fish and wildlife species, water for communities downstream as well as recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Waldron, Southern Foothills, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Waldron, Southern Foothills, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)


Straddling both the Montane Natural Subregion and Foothills Fescue Natural Subregion, the property is composed of a mix of extensive and diverse montane ridges, riparian areas and fescue grassland. Forests are primarily composed of Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine, with aspen woodland. Endangered limber pine is also found on the exposed ridges throughout the property.

The ranch provides important habitat for species such as:

  • elk
  • grizzly and black bear
  • moose
  • white-tailed deer
  • bald eagle
  • wild turkey

Species at risk observed on the property include:

  • golden eagle
  • ferruginous hawk
  • limber pine


Visionaries $500,000 +

  • Waldron Grazing CO-OP
  • Government of Alberta, Alberta Land Stewardship Grant Program
  • Government of Canada, Natural Areas Conservation Program
  • The Calgary Foundation

Founders $250,000 - $499,000

  • Werklund Foundation

Trailblazers $100,000 - $249,999

  • TransCanada Corporation
  • Dale Huntingford and Virginia Dobson
  • Gerald A. Cooper Key Foundation
  • Soderglen Ranch      
  • Ron and Jan Brenneman
  • Hal Kvisle
  • The Riddell Family

  • Cattle at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Cattle at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
  • Ranchers at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Ranchers at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
  • Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
  • Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
  • Wildflowers at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wildflowers at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
  • Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Working landscape at Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,




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  • UKlink April 28, 2016 - 9:42
    I was wondering how the name came about as my gt gt Uncle was sent out to Canada as the 'black sheep' of the family in the mid 1950s

  • Web Admin November 20, 2014 - 12:32
    Skya, Thank you very much for taking the time to read through the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) conserve Waldron webpage. We don’t have a formal policy on wolves, or any other specific species. NCC works to conserve habitat for the betterment of all plants and animals. We work to protect the most critical land across the country, and usually land that is habitat for at risk species is more critical, and more of a priority for NCC. The Waldron webpage does not mention wolves, but the Waldron is ideal habitat for wolves because many species that they prey on, (deer and elk) thrive within the property creating good habitat for wolves and other carnivores. NCC has conserved numerous properties within the southern foothills of Alberta that all create good wolf habitat.

  • Skya November 05, 2014 - 11:49
    I applaude the conservation project. At the same time I agree with Wonder (Oct.04, 2013) who raised the question about including and providing habitat for important predators like wolves. I see included predators like black bears, grizzly bears and bald eagles, but no mentioning about the inclusion of wolves. What is your policy on wolves? Thank you.

  • Laura October 01, 2014 - 5:09
    Thank you. I'm so impressed with the dedication of all involved with this conservation effort. I'm just so happy for all the species existing in the Waldron, and the benefits for all for the future. THANK YOU.

  • Country Gal September 30, 2014 - 12:10
    Just a note to thank all for a wonderful task. May it always be there for others to enjoy.

  • Web Admin March 28, 2014 - 2:24
    Thank you very much for taking the time to comment on our project. As a non-profit organization, most of our work takes place on private land. Much of the area covering the watersheds from Cochrane to Jasper is crown land, and we are unable to work there. This area is still very important, all habitat especially habitat that protects our critical headwaters is highly important. There are a couple of groups active in public land policy such as the Alberta Wilderness Association or Friends of the Eastern Slopes. We are focused on securing and stewarding private land in Alberta. Our work takes place within highly sensitive natural areas in the province. One of our larger projects is the Waldron. By securing this property, we will be able to protect the landscape from further development, and look after very important watersheds within this area.

  • Oldtimer March 21, 2014 - 11:52
    There appears to be no work being down on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies to protect the watersheds north of Cochrane to Jasper. The gov't has given the logging companies another $20 million contract for clearcutting. Why is this area being neglected?

  • WALDO March 07, 2014 - 6:16
    another folly by the old man

  • Web Admin December 27, 2013 - 12:43
    Hi there, Thank you for your good question. Decisions concerning public access to the Waldron property are still in the hands of the Waldron Grazing Cooperative. Certain uses that would damage the nature values of the property however will be limited by the conservation easement. Muscle powered uses like the ones Glen mentioned are not limited in any way but permission to use the property must be directed to the property owner, in this case the Waldron. Where NCC owns property managed public access is generally permitted. Access to properties where NCC has a conservation easement are managed by the property owner. We similarly agree that there is a positive feedback loop between people interacting with the outdoors and learning to care about conservation that is why we generally provide access to NCC owned properties.

  • Randall December 24, 2013 - 10:14
    How can I help, specifically for the Waldron project?

  • Anonymous December 20, 2013 - 12:29
    Will there be opportunities for non-destructive outdoor recreation on the waldron land--e.g., hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, riding. (preferably without supplicating to the ranch management). It's important to conserve land, and it is also important to encourage people to get out and appreciate the outdoors--there is a feedback loop here.

  • ProudRascal December 04, 2013 - 10:10
    Trying to find this area on google maps makes me wish NCC had an interactive map showing its protected areas, and current projects. That would be nifty. Or at least coordinates so I can get an idea where it is.

  • Ole November 08, 2013 - 12:34
    This is a great endeavour and one of significant importance to conserving ranching and wilderness areas

  • Stan October 22, 2013 - 1:39
    A most worthy project.!

  • Wonder October 04, 2013 - 5:38
    I think this is a great project, but I wonder about predator and pest management policies on Nature Conservancy land. I hope that this conservation efforts aims to protect the whole ecosystem (coyotes, wolves, gophers, etc.) while managing livestock on the grazing reserve. Will there be any changes or prohibitions in land management policies as a result of the Nature Conservancy agreement?

  • PBoo September 25, 2013 - 7:07
    Hi - Is there a link to donate on line directly to the Waldron project ? Thanks. s

  • Manager of Communication September 23, 2013 - 4:19
    Hello, Thanks for taking the time to comment as it is very much an accomplishment that we are in a position to conserve this magnificent and highly ecological landscape, however, we still have $3 million left to raise before the Waldron is conserved for all time. Every little bit helps in making this a reality for not only Albertans but for all Canadians as well. Your support is welcomed!

  • Anonymous September 12, 2013 - 2:21
    Bravo on the Waldron...a much needed addition

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