Ranching and conservation in southern Alberta in the 1900s
Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt, kylefoto.com)
For most of the 1900s, financial returns from cattle generated enough income to allow ranchers to buy and sell land from each other. Today that is still true in most of the settled areas of Alberta. Being able to competitively buy and sell land in an open market keeps the remaining large blocks of native habitat intact. This is of enormous value to wildlife.
By about 1990 however areas with high aesthetic and recreation value like the eastern slopes became highly sought after commodities by recreation and second-home buyers. This caused land prices to steadily rise to the point where ranch economics could no longer allow ranchers to effectively compete for the purchase of land in an open market.
As a result, a new wave of habitat disintegration began.