Ranchers step forward to conserve land next to Waterton Lakes National Park

Click to play video 'Alberta ranch donates land to province for conservation efforts' Alberta ranch donates land to province for conservation efforts
WATCH (Sept. 2018): The WineGlass Ranch near Cochrane is becoming part of the Alberta Land Trust Grant Program, which aims to protect watersheds and wildlife habitats on private land throughout the province – Sep 19, 2018

A ranching family has agreed to conserve its land east of Waterton Lakes National Park in southwestern Alberta to help protect wildlife habitat.

The ranch was established in 1935 by Otto Hansen, who had emigrated from Denmark to Canada.

In 2003, grandson Shane Hansen, his wife, Laurel, and their two sons took over the 365-hectare operation.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta ranch now a conservation area

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says the conservation deal restricts development on the land, while ensuring the cattle ranch continues operating in a natural environment.

The conservancy says the property has several important habitats that extend beyond the boundaries of the already-protected Waterton park.

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It provides core habitat for grey wolves, wolverines, Canada lynx and fishers, and also supports grizzly bears — a species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

The Hanson Ranch is seen in this undated handout photo. Brent Calver, Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Hansen Ranch is in the headwaters region of southern Alberta. The area covers only four per cent of the province but provides fresh drinking water to 45 per cent of Albertans. Wetlands and streams on Hansen Ranch provide habitat for birds, amphibians and fish.

“This ranch … adds to a significant conservation network of protected lands that has been built up over decades,” Bob Demulder, a nature conservancy regional vice-president, said in a release Wednesday.

“We can ensure the family’s ranching legacy will carry on while also safeguarding these native grasslands … to supply habitat for the many plants and animals that live along the Rockies’ eastern slopes.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton farmer seeks conservation easement to secure land’s future, prevent development

The project received support from the Alberta and federal governments.