Qu'Appelle River Valley
Qu'Appelle River Valley, SK (Photo by NCC)
The Qu'Appelle River Valley is a major continental waterway and corridor into the Great Plains. Formed during melting of the last glaciers, it stretches from the south end of Last Mountain Lake and Diefenbaker Lake, east to the Manitoba border.
Species in character
The Qu'Appelle River Valley links prairie coulee in southwest Saskatchewan with aspen parkland to the north. The area supports many endangered or rare native plant species. Species usually found farther east, such as smooth green snake, eastern wood-pewee, eastern towhee, snapping turtle and bur oak, are also found here.
Qu'Appelle River Valley, Saskatchewan (Photo by NCC)
Housing and cottage development, along with agricultural activities such as sod farms and market gardening, are widespread here; especially along the lower flood banks of the Qu'Appelle River. Cultivation is common on the drier upper banks. Few unbroken native prairie areas and critical plant species and habitats remain unprotected.
The Qu'Appelle River Valley priority
Riparian (streamside) areas offer great biological and habitat diversity. A variety of habitats are found here, along the banks of the Qu'Appelle River, along with the slopes that frame the river, the ridges and plateaus flanking the valleys and the ecosystems within the river itself. The valley's varied landscapes are critical to the survival of more than 30 rare and endangered animal and plant species. Loggerhead shrike, northern leopard frog, bigmouth buffalo fish and smooth arid goosefoot are found here.
Qu'Appelle River Valley, Saskatchewan (Photo by Cherie Westmoreland)
NCC purchased the May property in partnership with the provincial Ministry of Environment, Alliance Pipelines Ltd. and SaskEnergy. This area now links two additional properties protected by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. Together, these lands form a corridor of wetlands, native prairie and riverside areas covering 3,227 acres (1,312 hectares).
In the southern areas of the Qu'Appelle River Valley, NCC again partnered with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment to protect 9,200 acres (3,700 hectares) of Fish and Wildlife Development lands through a conservation agreement.
NCC continues to work with landowners to secure additional critical valley properties.