The Nature Conservancy of Canada launches campaign to conserve exceptional landscape near Waterton Lakes National Park
The Yarrow is a unique opportunity to accelerate conservation and protect biodiversity in Alberta
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is announcing a major campaign to save a unique landscape, home to abundant wildlife located near Waterton Lakes National Park.
This property, called The Yarrow, is located near the hamlet of Twin Butte in southwestern Alberta, about 80 kilometres southwest of Lethbridge. Backed by the Rocky Mountains, this stunning 1,650-hectare (about one-and-a-half times the size of Nose Hill Park in Calgary) landscape features a complex array of pristine habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, creeks and mixed forests.
NCC is a launching a campaign to raise $6.9 million to conserve The Yarrow ranch. Properties like The Yarrow are rare and offer an invaluable return on investment for the future of conservation. Individuals, corporations and foundations who want to invest in the protection of this special and important place should go to TheYarrow.ca to learn how they can contribute.
This opportunity to conserve The Yarrow is made possible by the support of the property owners, the Fischer-Cuthbertson family, as well as the vision of Charlie Fischer to conserve this place.
Due to its many different habitats, relatively unaltered state and southerly location, The Yarrow supports one of the highest number of species recorded at a potential NCC conservation property in Alberta. This includes 27 wildlife species of provincial or national significance (those considered at-risk, may be at risk or sensitive, provincially and/or federally), such as grizzly bear (threatened in Alberta), bobolink (threatened) and little brown bat (endangered).
The Yarrow’s importance also extends beyond providing wildlife habitat. Its many wetlands hold vast amounts of water, helping to both reduce the severity of drought and buffer the impact of flooding in the area and downstream. They also store carbon, filter nutrients and prevent erosion.
Two important Eastern slopes streams are found on the property: Yarrow Creek and Drywood Creek. Besides providing fish habitat, these creeks transport water from Alberta’s southern headwaters to the Waterton Reservoir, supporting the people and economy of southwestern Alberta. This reservoir outflows into the Waterton River, a tributary of the Old Man River, itself part of the South Saskatchewan River Watershed, which flows across the Canadian Prairies to Lake Winnipeg, and eventually to Hudson’s Bay.
By conserving The Yarrow, NCC is building on decades of collaboration with landowners, partners and donors in the region, through which over 100 square kilometres of natural landscapes and biodiversity will remain intact. This area, known as the Waterton Park Front, provides a critical buffer to public protected lands nearby, including Waterton Lakes National Park, Castle Wildland and Castle Provincial Park
Conserving private land in this area in partnership and collaboration with local ranchers will ensure the natural rangeland there stays intact, to the benefit of this ecosystem. Maintaining a sustainable, working landscape for raising cattle and other livestock will help keep this land healthy into the future.
This project has been initiated by funding from the Government of Canada, through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, and the Government of Alberta’s Land Trust Grant Program. 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. The project was also funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
Cenovus Energy Inc. previously announced a US$3 million (~CAD$3.7 million) donation to NCC – portions of the investment will be allocated towards this project. The donation was made as part of the company’s social investment strategy and commitment to protecting the planet for future generations.
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.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to conserve this precious landscape, and work with the Fischer family to fulfill their vision to keep its stunning beauty and habitat intact. These extremely important projects would not be possible without the generosity of donors, support from our provincial and federal governments, and of course, the landowners who share our conservation values and vision.” – Tom Lynch-Staunton, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada
“Charlie purchased this land on his retirement and never stopped being awed by what a beautiful piece of Alberta it is. He took great interest in sustainable grazing and ensuring that this ranch was thoughtfully managed for nature to thrive there. Knowing how special Charlie felt this location was, it is meaningful to our family to see our ranch being conserved by the NCC in a way that sustains the land’s natural beauty as well as its ranching history. It has been our sincere pleasure to work with NCC to conserve this truly special place forever. We look forward to revisiting the breathtaking views, magnificent wildlife, and the winding creek with the grandchildren, sharing memories of their Grandpa Charlie and tales of the adventures we enjoyed here together.” – The Fischer-Cuthbertson family
“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 generous donors, 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 the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its goal of conserving a quarter of lands and oceans in Canada by 2025, working toward 30 percent of each by 2030.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association works to support landowners in conservation and stewardship of biodiversity in a variety of ways. We are pleased that The Yarrow will be conserved through NCC and be managed as a working landscape supporting both the long-term health of the land and the local ranching economy.” – Nora Matters, Executive Director, Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
“Cenovus has a comprehensive social investment strategy that includes a strong commitment to protecting our natural habitats and addressing the impact of climate change. We have a long-standing relationship with NCC, supporting the vitally important work the organization is doing to help conserve Canada’s natural areas that sustain our plants and wildlife. Through this commitment, we can play an important role in conserving the Yarrow.” - Rhona DelFrari, Chief Sustainability Officer & Senior Vice-President, Stakeholder Engagement, Cenovus Energy Inc.
- Wildlife and plant surveys conducted in 2020 by MULTISAR, a species-at-risk conservation program, documented 110 wildlife species at The Yarrow. For more information about the species found on The Yarrow, see project backgrounder.
- The Yarrow is within an Environmentally Significant Area, meaning it plays a key role in the long-term health of the natural habitat, landscape features and natural processes, as defined by Alberta Environment and Parks.
- Native grassland is the dominant habitat on the Yarrow, with approximately 680 hectares found there.
- Support for The Yarrow project will help NCC complete this project, which will conserve these precious lands and waters for generations. Support will also cover the stewardship endowment fund to help us care for and manage the property.
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. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community.
The Government of Alberta created the Alberta Land Trust Grant program in 2011 — a program designed to support land trusts such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in the purchase of conservation agreements on ecologically significant landscapes and donations of land with high conservation value.
Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) was designated in 1979 as the second Biosphere Reserve in Canada under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program. Located in the southwestern corner of Alberta, WBR encompasses some of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse landscapes in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and prairie grasslands. By working collaboratively, the Waterton Biosphere Reserve strives to achieve a balance between conserving biological diversity, promoting sustainable use of resources, and building the capacity of local people and organizations to positively affect their communities and the environment.
To learn more about the Ecological Gifts Program, please visit https://www.canada.ca/ecological-gifts.
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