A southern Alberta ranching family is partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to fill in the largest remaining gap in protected land near Waterton Lakes National Park.

At nearly 700 hectares, the Conservancy's latest project partners with the Shoderee Ranch, protecting more than four kilometres of the Waterton River’s western riverbank, 120 hectares of wetlands and riparian areas, 55 hectares of foothills parkland forest and an additional 340 hectares of native grasslands of a working cattle ranch. 

"We are very fortunate to work with NCC in conserving this beautiful and rich natural landscape, while ensuring my family can continue sustainably ranching for generations to come." Kathy Flundra, owner of the Shoderee Ranch.

According to a news release issued Thursday March 31 by the Nature Conservancy of Canada the landscapes provide habitat to animals listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, such as western grebe (special concern) and red-sided garter snake, which is listed as sensitive in Alberta. 

The newly conserved land also sits at the heart of the winter range for local ungulates, like elk, bighorn sheep, moose and mule deer.

The NCC says animals benefit from vast unencumbered spaces while protecting lands and water filter downstream to Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

The Shoderee Ranch showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. 

In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than 1 million hectares, or almost twice the size of Banff National Park, coast to coast to coast. 

"Waterton Lakes National Park and NCC’s Waterton Park front project is a very special place in Canada where NCC, ranchers, Parks Canada, the local community, NGOs and other groups have worked together to conserve this precious landscape, while providing for sustainable ranching and the well-being of all of us. This is truly a remarkable conservation partnership." Tom Lynch-Staunton, Regional Vice-President, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The project was made possible by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund. 

Additionally, this project would not be possible without the Flundra family, who owns the ranch, and their generous partnership and shared stewardship vision for the Shoderee Ranch.

Shoderee Ranch near Waterton