Nature Conservancy of Canada completes conservation of Alberta's Waldron grasslands with King Ranch
14,000 hectare conservation easement largest in Canadian history
Nearly 14,000 hectares of Alberta grassland is now protected from future development thanks to the addition of the King Ranch to the Waldron Conservation Project.
The acquisition is the largest conservation easement in Canadian history — meaning the ranchers who own the land retain grazing rights, but won't cultivate it, subdivide it or drain the wetlands.
- Alberta ranchers to conserve huge tract of native grassland
- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Alberta budget: How to find the right price for oil
The Waldron lands are about 80 km southwest of Calgary, situated along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
The area is an important watershed and animal wildlife corridor for bears, cougars, elk, mule deer, hawks, eagles and moose.
"So the entire basin is now conserved as one large working ranch," said Larry Simpson, associate regional VP for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
Wealthy brothers held pants up with twine
The property was previously owned by brothers and lifetime bachelors Harrold and Maurice King, who lived together in a log cabin on the ranch for more than half a century.
The King brothers were multimillionaires, but you wouldn't know it.
"If you saw them in the town of Pincher Creek during the 60s, 70s or 80s they would almost look homeless," said Simpson.
"Binder twine for belts and hair going in every direction. They were highly intelligent and well-mannered but you didn't have any sense that they were some of the wealthiest ranchers in southwest Alberta."
Protection through government, conservationists and cowboys
A group of ranchers, called the Waldron Grazing Co-operative, own the Waldron Ranch — the property adjacent to the King Ranch.
In 2014, the NCC paid $15 million for a conservation easement on the Waldron Ranch. That gave Waldron shareholders the purchasing power to buy the King Ranch for $11.5 million.
Th NCC then purchased an additional easement on the King Ranch, valued at $5.4 million. Provincial and federal funding covered $2.3 million of that easement.
The rest was donated by the Waldron shareholders.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener