mi-black-footed-ferret09062

The Grasslands National Park is where the black-footed ferret is being reintroduced to nature. (File photo)

Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan's southwest is expanding, a move which Parks Canada says will help a number of species in the area.

The land, some 111 square kilometres, comes from a transaction involving the Dixons, a prominent ranching family that has roots in the area going back to 1883.

In a news release issued Thursday, the government said the land "is significant for its spectacular scenery and native grassland which includes critical habitat for species at risk."

"This acquisition also represents important cultural heritage value as it was the historic Dixon's Diamond T Ranch," the release added.

The family worked with the government on the transaction.

"We think that parks are for people and it's comforting to know our ranch will be a place for visitors to enjoy and come back to," Bruce Dixon was quoted as saying in the government's release. "We are pleased they will have the chance to see how a large ranch operated in harmony with nature and has been a home for many rare species for many generations."

According to the government, the area is an important habitat for the greater short-horned lizard and the Mormon metalmark butterfly.

Parks Canada has also been reintroducing species to the area, including plains bison, black-tailed prairie dogs and the black-footed ferret.

The government said the formal acquisition of the Dixon ranch land will be completed at the end of 2013.

The park was established as a national park in 2001 and is comprised of two blocks covering a total of 921 square kilometres.