Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, night panorama. (Photo by Alan Dyer)

Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, night panorama. (Photo by Alan Dyer)

Nature Conservancy of Canada's Old Man on His Back Ranch Designated as Nocturnal Preserve!

July 28, 2015


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is pleased to announce that the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has designated the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) ranch as a Nocturnal Preserve. The OMB ranch is owned and managed by NCC in Saskatchewan.

This designation highlights NCC's commitment to protect the dark night environment for wildlife and guard against future light pollution in the area. It also features OMB as a rare place for visitors to enjoy dark night skies and study astronomy. NCC is committed to maintaining minimal use of artificial light and to monitor light pollution at OMB.

The RASC created its Nocturnal Preserve designation to raise awareness about the health and environmental value of dark nights for both wildlife and humans. A Nocturnal Preserve has minimal artificial light, non-lighted signage, and structures that confine external illumination. As a Nocturnal Preserve, OMB will offer visitors the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of a natural night.

The RASC's Nocturnal Preserve designation, part of the Dark Sky Preserve Program, is the newest of three RASC designations that aim to promote the protection of quality night sky and minimize light pollution. The RASC also awards the Dark Sky Preserve and the Urban Star Park designations. NCC's OMB Ranch is among the first in Canada to be designated a Nocturnal Preserve.

The NCC also manages a herd of genetically-pure plains bison that live on the 13,135-acre (5,316-hectare) ranch, located near Claydon in southwestern Saskatchewan.


"We are very proud to have been awarded this designation," says Mark Wartman, Regional Vice President for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Saskatchewan Region. "The importance of protecting dark night skies against light polllution is just beginning to be understood. In addition to land conservation, NCC now accommodates another aspect of our natural environment, that of dark night skies!"

"Artificial night light can change the night environment with a profound impact on the ecological balance of an area," says Robert Dick, Chairperson of the Light Pollution Abatement Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. "Preventing outdoor lighting, or at least minimizing its impact, is a major step in the overall protection of our nocturnal environment. And NCC's OMB ranch is an ideal setting as a Nocturnal Preserve."

"The OMB ranch has always attracted nature and hiking enthusiasts, and those curious about the genetically-pure plains bison managed here by NCC," says Natalie Nikiforuk, Natural Area Manager for southwestern Saskatchewan, Nature Conservancy of Canada. "This designation adds another dimension to ranch visitors' experiences. We anticipate a host of astronomers, novice and otherwise, will visit the ranch to view its rich night skies."


  • NCC in Saskatchewan conserves land in its natural state for the benefit of both people and wildlife.
  • NCC works with government at all levels, private industry, international and charitable organizations, academics, community groups and individuals for long-term land conservation.
  • NCC partners with ranchers through grazing leases and provides public foot access to properties in Saskatchewan.
  • Eighty-three per cent of contributions to NCC go directly to on-the-ground conservation of Canada's natural spaces and wildlife, including species at risk habitat.
  • NCC owns and manages properties near many southern and central Saskatchewan communities like Kenosee, Edenwold, Lang, Maymont, Asquith, Herbert, Keeler, the Quill Lakes, Claydon and more.


NCC is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares), coast to coast, including more than 150,000 acres (60,700-hectares) in Saskatchewan. 

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Tiffany Cassidy
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National Office
Cell: 519-362-8236

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