Branimr Gjetvaj

Saskatchewan

Number of projects: 4

Land value: Land value is the appraised value of land that NCC has conserved directly and with partners. $2,657,878

Acres conserved: 7,793

Stewardship volunteers: 96

Finding Nebo

Mike Dembeck

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Nebo property is found in the transition zone that bridges boreal forest with grasslands. The property is located about 70 kilometres west of Prince Albert. It was secured in January 2015 with the support of the Government of Canada, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program, along with the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, TD Bank Group, under the TD Forests Program, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nebo features mixed wood forest, native grasslands and wetlands. There is tame pasture as well. The landscape gently folds into balsam poplar, dogwood, white spruce, quaking aspen and even choke cherry shrubs. Rough fescue and northern snowberry are also found in this gently rolling terrain. Local ranchers graze their cattle here.

The 439-acre (178-hectare) Nebo property is home to a diversity of mammals, waterfowl and songbird species.

Species at risk observed here include:

  • Canada warbler
  • barn swallow
  • American badger

Species at risk likely to occur here but not observed yet:

  • little brown bat
  • northern long-eared bat
  • olive-sided flycatcher
  • rusty blackbird
  • common nighthawk
  • horned grebe
  • whooping crane

Fish and Wildlife Development partnership

Daniel Grunert

In 2015, NCC’s Saskatchewan Region, along with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, entered into a five-year Saskatchewan Conservation Land Management Trust Agreement with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment. The agreement allows the three conservation organizations to assume the management of more than 165,000 acres (66,800 hectares) of Fish and Wildlife Development Fund (FWDF) lands owned by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.

Initiated in 1970, the FWDF receives 30 percent of the revenue generated from the sale of hunting, angling and trapping licences in the province. These funds support the protection of natural habitat through government securement of conservation lands and in collaboration with non-government organizations such as NCC. This includes a five-year securement funding agreement signed in the spring of 2016 with NCC to support the securement of conservation lands through fee-simple purchase and conservation agreements.

The trust agreement transfers the management of provincially owned FWDF lands to the conservation organizations. While the Ministry of Environment maintains oversight, NCC and the other trustees share responsibility for baseline assessment and management activities, including restoration, prescribed burning, grazing and haying, and invasive species control. These management activities continue to be funded by the FWDF.

In 2015-16, NCC completed the baseline assessment of more than 50,000 acres (20,230 hectares) of FWDF lands, and initiated the development and implementation of a joint management plan with the Ministry of the Environment and other trustees. This initiative allows for the unique delivery of conservation expertise, ensuring that these lands are managed for biodiversity, in collaboration with the provincial government, our conservation partners and the local communities who use and enjoy these lands.

20 years of grassland conservation in Saskatchewan

Don Getty

This year, NCC marked 20 years of grassland conservation in Saskatchewan at the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB) in southwestern Saskatchewan.

The 13,095-acre (5,300-hectare) ranch in southwestern Saskatchewan was purchased in 1996 by NCC, with a portion donated from Peter and Sharon Butala, the former owners. The Butalas worked with NCC and the Government of Saskatchewan to ensure these prairie grasslands would be conserved in the long term.

NCC has since managed OMB as a working ranch, showcasing the positive relationship between agricultural use and land conservation. In 2004, NCC introduced 50 heads of genetically pure plains bison to the ranch. In addition to contributing to the health and quality of these grasslands, this fulfilled Peter Butala’s vision of seeing the bison return to their historic habitat. The current OMB bison herd consists of 74 cows and four breeding bulls, with more than 50 calves being born on the ranch each year.

In 2015, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated NCC’s Old Man on His Back as a Nocturnal Preserve because of its lack of nighttime light pollution and its dark night skies.

This year, volunteers collected soup cans to help cap metal fence posts at Old Man on His Back, to keep small birds from getting stuck.