New conservation site north of Edmonton honours legacy of passionate land steward
South Wakomao Shores, donated in memory of Paul Parrent, features pristine lakeshore, wetland and forest habitats important to wildlife
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is announcing a new conservation site north of Edmonton, named South Wakomao Shores.
Located just east of the Village of Clyde, in Westlock County, this 113-hectare project has been generously donated for conservation by the Parrent family, in honour of the late Paul Parrent.
The Parrent family started homesteading in the area in 1906, and four generations later, members of the family continue to farm and steward their land.
Paul was passionate about not only farming and his family’s history, but also enhancing his property’s natural environment and protecting the wildlife calling it home. The decision to donate the land to NCC so it can be conserved for the long term will cement Paul’s legacy as a dedicated and impactful land steward.
As its name implies, South Wakomao Shores is located on the south shore of Wakomao Lake, a shallow lake measuring about four kilometres long and one kilometre wide. The property features marshy lake shoreline habitat, as well as a patchwork of forests, shrublands and wetlands.
This striking and varied landscape supports a rich diversity of wildlife representative of Alberta’s boreal forests. The wetlands and shoreline provide excellent breeding and stopover habitat for migratory birds, including waterfowl, raptors and songbirds. Several species of mammal thrive on the site, including mule deer, moose, elk, black bear and American badger, a sensitive species in Alberta.
The wetlands on the property are important not only for the habitat they provide for species, but also because they capture carbon, filter nutrients and store water, helping to reduce the impact of both flooding events and drought.
This project is evidence of NCC’s increasing focus on preserving natural landscapes within Alberta’s aspen parkland and boreal fringe. This area, where aspen parkland to the south transitions to boreal forest to the north, supports significant biodiversity despite having experienced extensive land conversion and other human impacts. This property builds on NCC’s work toward establishing a robust conservation network in the Beaver Hills and surrounding areas.
This project also showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than 1 million hectares (almost twice the size of Banff National Park), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation.
In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation. When nature thrives, we all thrive.
This project was also made possible from generous donations by MapleCross, Edmonton Community Foundation and the Dr. Rene and Mrs. Carol Weber Foundation.
A portion of this project was donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program. This program provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically significant land.
“Paul was a proud farmer, and he just loved his land and the wildlife calling it home. He planted trees whenever he could, would not allow any hunting on his property and always waited for nesting birds to leave before cutting hay — he was just that kind of person. Conserving these lands will make Paul’s efforts to protect this special place last forever.” – The Parrent Family
“Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work would not be possible without the vision of passionate land stewards such as Paul Parrent. This new conservation site expands protected lands in the southern boreal forest of Alberta, a region where pressures on natural ecosystems are growing.” – Tom Lynch-Staunton, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“When I first visited South Wakomao Shores, I was in awe of all the wetlands, forests and marshy shoreline habitats along Wakomao Lake. We even encountered a cow moose with her twins. After that visit, I knew this spectacular place needed to be conserved, to continue the lasting stewardship Paul Parrent fostered for so many years, and to ensure it will remain home for many incredible wildlife species.”– Delaney Schlemko, Natural Area Manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are two sides of the same coin, and we must tackle them together. By working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and thanks to the generosity of landowners, we are helping to protect the natural environment in Alberta and across the country. Protecting lands plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and contributes to the recovery of species at risk. Through programs like the Ecological Gifts Program, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its goal of conserving a quarter of lands and oceans in Canada by 2025, working towards 30 percent of each by 2030.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“MapleCross is very pleased to provide stewardship support to NCC to help protect the ecologically sensitive South Wakomao Shores property. We continue to respect the excellent work of NCC while recognizing the generous donation of land by the Parrent Family. During our university time in Edmonton, we gained an appreciation of Alberta’s unique natural environment and are now delighted to bring ‘home’ a contribution toward the preservation of this significant shoreline habitat.” – Dr. Isobel Ralston and Dr. Jan Oudenes (MapleCross)
- Other wildlife species observed on the property include osprey, bald eagle (listed as sensitive in Alberta) and common loon.
- NCC has conserved four other properties within a 33-kilometre radius of the property, totalling 437 hectares of boreal forest habitat.
- Wakomao Lake is recognized as an important large marsh used by moulting and staging waterfowl and other waterbirds
- A portion of this site is considered an Environmentally Significant Area by the Alberta government, meaning it is important to the long-term maintenance of biological diversity, soil, water or other natural processes.
- Formal species surveys will be conducted on the property in 2023.
- As the property will be continued to be grazed by cattle, this property will not be open to the public at this time. People wishing to visit conservation lands in this area can visit connect2nature.ca to find sites open for foot access.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought Canadians together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares.
MapleCross was established by Dr. Jan Oudenes and Dr. Isobel Ralston to invest in and protect ecologically sensitive land to preserve natural features and biological diversity for generations to come. MapleCross has made major contributions to the conservation of properties throughout Canada, from the Maritimes to British Columbia.
To learn more about the Ecological Gifts Program, please visit https://www.canada.ca/ecological-gifts.
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