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Record-Setting Conservation Easement Protects McIntyre Ranch in Perpetuity

June 14, 2024

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has successfully conserved the McIntyre Ranch, Alberta’s largest conservation easement, thanks to years of planning and support from funders including Alberta’s government, the Canadian government, Cenovus Energy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private foundations.

Located near Milk River Ridge, the 22,500-hectare McIntyre Ranch is the largest piece of fescue grasslands remaining on the planet. The easement will protect this vital ecosystem, home to over 150 species, including 27 species of concern like the ferruginous hawk and chestnut-collared longspur.

Ralph Thrall III, CEO of McIntyre Ranch, emphasizes the critical role of cattle in maintaining grassland health and biodiversity, likening Canada’s grasslands to the rainforests of South America in their ecological importance.

This conservation easement ensures the land remains intact, preventing it from being subdivided or converted for other uses, while allowing sustainable ranching to continue. NCC will conduct ecological monitoring and support stewardship practices to benefit the ranch’s diverse species.

The NCC has also launched the Prairie Grassland Action Plan to conserve 500,000 hectares of grassland by 2030, addressing the alarming rate of grassland loss in Canada.

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