The Nature Conservancy of Canada has completed its first project in Alberta under its new Prairie Grasslands Action Plan

The Gabert-Meeting Creek property is 129 hectares located in the Aspen Parklands in Camrose County.

Jeremy Hogan, NCC's program director for Prairie Grasslands Conservation says the Gabert family have lived and farmed in the area since 1974,  and now Terry and Faith have signed a conservation agreement with NCC.

"With a conservation agreement the landowners maintain ownership of the land, but they give up some of the rights to the property. So,  they're not allowed to cultivate the land , drain wetlands, or subdivide the property. So it keeps the habitat intact and functioning, but it keeps the ownership of the land in the hands of those landowners."

The Gaberts have donated the complete value of the agreement to NCC, fortifying the organization's ongoing efforts to conserve nature in Alberta.

NCC notes that the property primarily consists of native Prairie grasslands, which are becoming increasingly rare in the area. These grasslands are vital for biodiversity, serving as habitat for numerous plant and animal species, some of which are rare and threatened. Additionally, they contribute to carbon storage, soil conservation and water regulation.

Meeting Creek flows through the new conservation site. A tributary of the Battle River, one of Alberta's major water systems, this creek supports many fish, waterfowl and mammals. It also serves as a water source for agriculture and recreation in the surrounding area. Protecting the natural land cover along the creek helps stabilize its banks, maintain its water quality and lessen the impacts of floods and droughts in the watershed.

Among the birds and animals documented on the property is the Sprague’s pipit, a songbird species, listed as threatened under Canada’s Species At Risk Act. This species declined by 87 per cent since 1970 and conserving its remaining grassland habitat is crucial to its recovery.

NCC's conservation agreement and partnership with the Gaberts ensures that the land's natural features, including native Prairie grasslands, riparian habitats and diverse wildlife, will be safeguarded for generations to come.

Hogan notes they hope to see more conservation agreements in place as they are critical for biodiversity and the habitat of numerous plant and animal species some of which are considered species at risk.