NCC acquires 866-hectare conservation site along Buffalo Pound Lake

An 866-hectare property that includes seven kilometres of shoreline along Buffalo Pound Lake is now among the Nature Conservancy of Canada's conservation sites. Jason Bantle / NCC

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has acquired an 866-hectare property that includes seven kilometres of shoreline along Buffalo Pound Lake.

“Buffalo Pound is an incredible property and we’re so excited it will be conserved for the long term,” said Jennifer McKillop, the NCC’s regional vice president in Saskatchewan.

The NCC announced the purchase of its latest conservation site, located approximately 40 kilometres outside of Moose Jaw, on Monday.

Read more: NCC wants thousands of hectares of native Saskatchewan prairie grasslands protected

The NCC began looking into the expansive grassland about three years ago, noting the area as “at-risk for future development” and identifying it as a priority property.

Saskatchewan’s native grassland — of which less than 20 per cent remains today — is among the most rare and at-risk habitats in the world, according to the NCC. In the past 25 years, more than 800,000 hectares of native grassland have been lost in the province.

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The natural area being preserved around Buffalo Pound Lake, which provides the drinking water for about 25 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population, will help with filtration.

The property is part of an important wildlife corridor in the Upper Qu’Appelle River system, said Cameron Wood, the NCC’s Saskatchewan conservation director, adding it’s an important stopover for migratory birds and waterfowl.

Among the NCC’s first jobs will be taking a thorough inventory of all of the animals and plants, Wood said. Then, the not-for-profit will be able to prepare a comprehensive management plan.

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About 30 per cent of the total cost of the $3.38-million Buffalo Pound Conservation Project was paid for by K+S Potash Canada, which donated $987,000 to the NCC to offset grassland destroyed in Saskatchewan by mine construction.

Federal and provincial partners also contributed to the acquisition, as did hundreds of private donors.

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The property was previously owned by a ranching family. The NCC said grazing will continue on the land.

“Certainly, it will be incorporated into the management of the property,” Wood said.

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