Key piece of grasslands conserved in southern Saskatchewan
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and its partners today announced the protection of a new conservation site in the southwest corner of the province, close to the Village of Consul, Saskatchewan.
NCC’s Zen-Ridge property consists of 195 hectares (483 acres) of grassland habitat, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The property is located in the Milk River Basin Natural Area and contains rolling hills, grasslands and seasonal wetlands.
This natural area is home to a variety of plants and animals, as well as wildlife listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Portions of the property have been designated as critical habitat for greater sage-grouse (endangered) and chestnut-collared longspur (threatened). Ferruginous hawks (threatened) have also been reported nesting in the area surrounding the property. The wetlands offer an important water source in the dry climate. The dried-up edges of these wetlands provide habitat for the rare dwarf woolly-heads plant, which is listed as special concern.
The protection of the Zen-Ridge property was made possible due to the generous financial support of several partners. The Government of Canada is a major contributor through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. The Government of Saskatchewan contributed through the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund. Many individual donors also supported this conservation project through NCC’s grasslands campaign conservegrasslands.ca.
“The conservation of the Zen-Ridge property provides important grassland and wetland habitat for species at risk and preserves biodiversity in Saskatchewan. Through the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, we are proud to support partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada on conservation projects such as this one. By protecting this important ecosystem, we are making progress toward conserving a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of its oceans by 2025.” – The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The grasslands on NCC’s Zen-Ridge property are at risk, including many of the plants and animals that live here. Our focus on conserving grasslands in Saskatchewan represents an opportunity to protect and revitalize what remains. Thanks to the support of our partners and donors, we can work to achieve science-based solutions for wildlife and future generations. For more information, visit conservegrasslands.ca.” – Michael Burak, Program Director of Southwest Saskatchewan for the Nature Conservancy of Canada
- The Zen-Ridge property is about an hour's drive west of NCC’s Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area. Here you’ll find rolling grasslands, wetlands, tipi rings and a herd of genetically pure plains bison. The property is also designated a nocturnal preserve, providing spectacular views of the Milky Way. The area provides habitat for small herds of pronghorn and several imperiled species, such as burrowing owl, long-billed curlew, swift fox and ferruginous hawk.
- Saskatchewan’s native grasslands are among the rarest and most at-risk habitats in the world and a critical part of the province’s environment. For more information, visit conservegrasslands.ca.
- Over the past 25 years, Saskatchewan has lost more than 809,000 hectares (2 million acres) of native grassland. Today, less than 20 per cent of native grassland remains in the province.
- Grasslands filter our water, sequester and store carbon, and for thousands of years have provided sustenance for humans. They are also critical stopover sites for migratory birds and provide habitat for waterfowl and imperilled species.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to conserve 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. In Saskatchewan, more than 198,219 hectares (489,810 acres) have been protected. 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.
- 30 -