Belly River (Photo by Brent Calver)

Belly River (Photo by Brent Calver)

Nature Conservancy of Canada adds to conservation landscape around Waterton Lakes National Park

December 2, 2021
Calgary, Alberta


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is announcing the securement of the 43-hectare Belly River property, which expands NCC’s existing network of conservation lands adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park.

As the name suggests, the Belly River property is adjacent to 800 metres of the Belly River, which provides habitat for the birds, amphibians and fish that inhabit these water systems.

This property contains several important habitats that extend beyond the boundaries of the already protected national park. Located in an area referred to as the Crown of the Continent, this region provides core habitat and connectivity for populations of wide-ranging mammals, including wolf, cougar, wolverine, Canada lynx and their prey.

It also supports habitat for grizzly bears, which are designated as a species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

These species rely on the wide, undeveloped areas of wild habitat in Alberta’s foothills, which has been kept intact thanks to the ranching community.

Native grasslands are home to 85 per cent of Alberta’s species at risk, and any alteration to this habitat will have a direct impact on habitat for wildlife. Two-thirds of the Belly River property is native grasslands.

The Belly River property fits into NCC’s existing network of conservation lands adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park. This property borders existing NCC-owned lands to the west and south and is close to numerous other conservation projects.

Since 1998, NCC, with the support of generous donors, foundations and governments, has helped conserve more than 18,000 hectares surrounding Waterton Lakes National Park.

For decades, NCC has worked with private landowners to create a natural buffer for the species that live in this area. Those who have stewarded and ranched this landscape in the past have been great caretakers. Their passion and sustainable use of the lands have meant that many species continue to thrive here.

This conservation project was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund.



“By working with partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada, we are protecting our natural environment in Alberta and across the country. Protecting and conserving more of Canada’s natural beauty is an important part of our plan to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Through programs like the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, we are making progress toward conserving a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of its oceans by 2025.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proud to announce the conservation of the Belly River property. This ranch, located outside of Waterton Lake National Park, adds to a significant conservation network of protected lands that has been built up over decades. This project is an example of how working landscapes and conservation go hand in hand.”
Tom Lynch-Staunton, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada



  • Each working ranch conserved in this region benefits the ranching community, native wildlife and Alberta’s headwaters. NCC’s conservation of this significant stretch of working rangeland will assist in the conservation of water quality, flood mitigation and the maintenance of an important watershed along Alberta’s southern foothills.
  • Grazing animals that are managed appropriately are an important tool in maintaining healthy, functioning grassland ecosystems. A grazing strategy designed for the species present will increase biodiversity and the resiliency of the grasslands to drought, fire and other disturbances. A healthy system will cycle nutrients, energy and water with the greatest efficiency, and invasive species will have a more difficult time getting established when things are functioning properly. A healthy, functioning system will also provide quality habitat for many species of wildlife.  
  • One of the species at risk found on this property is the endangered limber pine tree, which can be found in the montane and subalpine regions of the Rocky Mountains. Limber pine trees can live for more than 1,000 years under ideal conditions and do not reach maturity until they are about 50 years old.
  • Public access on this property has not yet been determined. People wishing to visit conservation lands in this area can visit to find sites open to foot access.

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Media Contact:

Carys Richards
Communications Manager
Alberta Region
Mobile: (403) 669.2894

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