The Nature Conservancy of Canada is planning to purchase an easement on 30,000 acres of the historic Waldron ranch in Alberta.

  • Watch the video above for more on the story from CBC's Dave Gilson.

A new deal — worth an estimated $37.5 million — will protect the grasslands east of the Rockies for future generations.

The deal offers protection from construction, cultivation and draining of the wetlands but doesn't include oil and gas development.

The area's ranching history goes back more than 130 years.

The Waldron ranch has been owned and operated by a co-op of 72 ranchers since the early 1960s, and native grass has survived there largely because of their stewardship.

Key wildlife habitat

Roughly 75 per cent of them voted to approve the deal, but not without a lot of debate as they are donating some of the value of that land.

"I'm in favour of it," said rancher Mark Burles. "Not without reservations because it's still a business and it will restrict some ... things."

Conservationists say it's one of the last intact blocks of native fescue grass in Alberta, and key wildlife habitat.

"Private citizens have stepped up to the plate to conserve a piece of native grass that really isn't represented in other places," said Mike Gibeau with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The conservancy is now working to raise the rest of the money and is hoping for help from the provincial and federal governments. They expect to have a final deal in place by December.