Sanderlings at Mackie Ranch, SK (Photo by Jason Bantle)
Mackie Ranch is located a few kilometres off the Trans-Canada Highway, between Moose Jaw and Swift Current. It's situated along the eastern shoreline of Chaplin Lake, the second largest saline lake in Canada. The area is within the boundaries of the Chaplin-Old Wives-Reed Lakes Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. This site is one of only three in Canada with the designation of hemispheric importance to shorebirds, and the only site that is located inland.
Chaplin Lake is known for its remarkable birdwatching opportunities. Over half of the world's population of sanderlings stop to rest and feed here during their spring migration. Many other migratory shorebirds also visit the lake, such as semipalmated sandpiper, Baird's sandpiper, red knot and piping plover.
Bécasseaux sanderling au ranch Mackie, Sask. (Photo de Jason Bantle)
In addition to the fabulous shorebirds, NCC’s Mackie Ranch property contains 646 hectares of grasslands and wetlands. Grasslands are one of the rarest and most at-risk ecosystems in the world and are a critical part of Saskatchewan. They filter our water, help mitigate flooding and droughts, sequester carbon and, for thousands of years, have provided sustenance for humans.
The conservation site has been named in recognition of the generations of stewardship by the Mackie family, and will continue to be used for cattle grazing to help keep the grasslands healthy and support the local economy.
NCC needs your support to expand the Mackie Ranch conservation project.
The incredible natural diversity found here exemplifies the urgent work of the NCC. Your gift will protect an additional 640 hectares of endangered grasslands around Chaplin Lake - an internationally significant lake for shorebirds and a haven for wildlife that call the land home. Donate today at prairiegrasslands.ca.
Species to spot
Thanks to the previous landowners, Jim Mackie and his family, the ranch has been carefully managed for over 100 years. The property and surrounding area are home to many plants and animals, including:
- Burrowing owl
- Chestnut-collared longspur
- Ferruginous hawk
- Long-billed curlew
- Piping plover
- Red knot
- Semipalmated sandpiper
- Sharp-tailed grouse
“It’s fascinating to watch sharp-tailed grouse sing and dance — the way they flutter their wings and stomp and spin in tight circles. And it’s a big competition; only a few of the males are selected as mates by the females.” - Jim Mackie, landowner, Mackie Ranch.
Tétras à queue fine (Photo de Jason Bantle)
“One of the things I love about Mackie Ranch is how remote it feels when you are walking along the property. All you see when you look to the west and south is water and grass. It’s a beautiful natural area with an incredible diversity of wildlife. Many of these species are under significant threat. Conserving grasslands is important for our health and the wildlife they sustain.” – Michael Burak, Program Director in southwest Saskatchewan for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
- The Mackie Ranch conservation project was made possible by the generous support of our donors and partners, including:
- The Mackie family
- The Government of Saskatchewan Fish and Wildlife Development Fund
- The Government of Canada through its Natural Heritage Conservation Program
- The United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The Mackie Ranch conservation project exemplifies a dedicated commitment to safeguarding grasslands under NCC’s Prairie Grasslands Action Plan — a comprehensive strategy aimed to conserve more than 500,000 hectares by 2030. This is an area six times the size of Calgary and equivalent to what we will lose if we don’t act now to protect the grasslands that remain. Learn more about how you can take action to care for Canada’s iconic Prairie grasslands at prairiegrasslands.ca.
Drone footage of this property