Morlach property (Photo by NCC)
As you fly over the Missouri Coteau in southern Saskatchewan, you're struck by the thousands of lakes and potholes, shimmering in the sunshine. Each of these potholes is incredibly important. They are often selected by breeding pairs of waterfowl for their nesting habitat.
The Missouri Coteau
The Missouri Coteau is an extensive glacial moraine. It snakes its way south from Saskatchewan, across the U.S.-Canada border to the Dakotas.
Featuring large tracts of native prairie along with many potholes and lakes, the Missouri Coteau is vital for breeding waterfowl, especially northern pintail. These prairie pothole wetland areas are also critical for migrating shorebirds.
The Mortlach property
In the middle of this ecological richness lies the Mortlach property. The 50-hectare (124-acre) property of unbroken, native mixed grasslands is rare in Saskatchewan.
The Mortlach property is directly connected to lands conserved by the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act. They are also connected to other protected lands, such as Old Wives Lake properties protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC’s) Saskatchewan Region.
As with all NCC properties in Saskatchewan, the Mortlach property is only accessible by foot. This is to ensure the least amount of disturbance to the habitat.
The property provides nesting habitat for a wide range of species, including:
- Sprague’s pipit
- Baird’s sparrow
- western meadowlark
- red-winged blackbird
- sharp-tailed grouse
- vesper sparrow
Several nationally and provincially listed species at risk have been recorded in the immediate area, such as:
- ferruginous hawk
- burrowing owl
- olive-backed pocket mouse
- mud purslane
This property provides excellent opportunities for hiking, photography and hunting (at specific times of year).
Ever-present is the threat of cultivation of native prairie patches. Cultivation fragments wildlife habitat and increases the likelihood of encroachment by invasive alien species, while reducing healthy habitat required by native plant and animal populations.
A natural partnership
A $50,000 grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op will allow NCC to conserve the property and manage its biodiversity values for the long term. Canadians will be able to enjoy this special place for generations to come.
NCC’s Mortlach property is located near the town of Mortlach, about a one-hour drive from Regina.