National group leads week-long celebration of major new conservation project in southwest Saskatchewan
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) joined its partners today to unveil a major new conservation area next to Grasslands National Park.
The project, now known as the Wideview Complex, consists of a number of smaller recently acquired parcels for conservation by the organization’s Saskatchewan team. Wideview covers 3,021 acres (1,222 hectares) of rolling hills and native grasslands in the Milk River Basin, about 30 kilometres southwest of Mankota.
The Milk River Basin provides important habitat for a number of species registered under the federal Species at Risk Act. Birds including Sprague’s pipit, ferruginous hawk and chestnut-collared longspur (all threatened) can be found at Wideview. The northern leopard frog, of which the western boreal and prairie populations are of special concern, are found in the area.
Other species at risk known to live in the Milk River Basin include the endangered burrowing owl, the endangered greater sage grouse and the threatened swift fox.
In celebration of the project, NCC is inviting the public to experience the grasslands at a special exhibit this week. The Art Gallery of Regina has been transformed into an immersive nature space. Through virtual reality and the sights and sounds of the grasslands, the general public, along with school groups, can learn more about Saskatchewan’s natural heritage.
The Wideview conservation project is a success because of the generous financial support of a number of partners. The Government of Canada is a major contributor through the Habitat Stewardship Program, and through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, a public-private partnership to accelerate conservation.
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and MP for Regina-Wascana joined the announcement on behalf of Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The Government of Saskatchewan provided funding through the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund. MLA Gene Makowsky, Regina Gardiner Park, represented Minister of the Environment Scott Moe.
Other private and individual contributors have dedicated funds to the project. The Nature Conservancy of Canada also thanks the Art Gallery of Regina for hosting the event and the exhibit.
“On behalf of my colleague, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I want to congratulate the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners on creating this new conservation area in southwestern Saskatchewan. Supporting this important wildlife habitat conservation initiative through the Natural Areas Conservation Program will also help provide great spaces for families to explore by foot and enjoy the natural wonders of this area.”
Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Member of Parliament for Regina―Wascana
“This conservation area is an excellent example of how the Government of Saskatchewan’s Fish and Wildlife Development Fund can be used to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s conservation efforts. The Wideview Complex in the Milk River Basin is going to conserve habitat for many important grassland species, including species at risk, and will add to existing habitat in the grasslands region already protected by crown land easements and provided by many Saskatchewan ranchers.” Hon. Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Environment Minister
“Southwest Saskatchewan has a special place in the hearts of the people of this province, and for good reason. The Milk River Basin is an area where ranchers have maintained a productive habitat for several species at risk for generations. The securement of the Wideview Complex means future generations will be able to continue to enjoy this area. People can head to the property to hike the rolling hills and experience the beautiful views, plants and wildlife. We hope people in Regina celebrate nature with us this week by visiting the Art Gallery of Regina to learn about the conservation process and this incredible landscape.” Jennifer McKillop, Director of Conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Saskatchewan
- Grasslands are considered the world’s most endangered ecosystem, as globally more than 50 per cent have been lost to development. In Saskatchewan, 80 per cent of the original grasslands have been lost to development.
- NCC provides public, on-foot access at almost all of its properties, including the Wideview Complex.
- The announcement highlights a week-long exhibit by NCC called ‘Escape into Nature’ at the Art Gallery of Regina.
- The exhibit showcases lands NCC has acquired across the province, including those conserved with the support of the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, protecting vital natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. In Saskatchewan, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved 150,000 acres (more than 60,700 hectares) of ecologically significant land through land donations, purchases and conservation agreements.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership managed and directed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $500 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.
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