Asquith North Complex
Sprague's pipit (Photo by Steve Zack)
Rough fescue, quaking aspen and northern snowberry dominate this gently rolling terrain. It is an area familiar to local ranchers and periodically grazed by their cattle. The Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Asquith Complex includes the Asquith North, Asquith North 2 and Asquith North 3 properties. The property is home to a diversity of mammals and grassland birds. Species at risk such as loggerhead shrike, short-flower suncup, low milk-vetch and tufted milk-vetch may be viewed in this moist mixed grassland ecoregion of NCC's Saskatoon Prairie Natural Area.
The Asquith Complex is located west of Saskatoon, eight kilometres (five miles) north of the town of Asquith. There are three properties totalling 420 hectares (1,040 acres) of native grasslands and woodlands (land with trees and bushes) with a few small seasonal wetlands. The native grassland is dominated by plains rough fescue, trembling aspen and northern snowberry. The land features stabilized sand dunes.
Part of this complex links with an adjacent 260 hectares (640 acres) of Crown lands. The properties are great habitat for a variety of mammals and grassland birds, including the endangered Sprague's pipit.
The Asquith Complex is managed to enhance and maintain its ecological values. Each year since 2010, NCC's Saskatchewan Region has held Conservation Volunteers events here. Volunteers have helped with recording the plants and animals on the property, looked for rare plants, de-cluttered the area or maintained fences. NCC also works with local livestock producers and provides grazing leases during warmer months. Public access to the property is on foot only, and hunting with permission is allowed.
"My favourite features of this property are the stabilized sand dunes," says Matthew Braun, conservation science and natural areas manager with NCC. "You can pretty much feel the contours under your boots as you walk over the mats of creeping juniper holding on to this fragile ecosystem. One of my other favourite grasses (besides rough fescue) is on this property. It thrives in warm, dry places and is called little bluestem. It's (Asquith Complex) a fun place to get a little lost and pretend you are in some other century."
The Asquith Complex was secured with the support of the following partners:
- Fish and Wildlife Development Fund, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment
- Heather and David Foundation, Inc.
- James and Lisa Yuel
- Natural Areas Conservation Program, Government of Canada
- Transcanada Pipelines