Southwest Alberta ranch signs Nature Conservancy of Canada agreement

By Dori Modney - Lethbridge News Now
June 9, 2019 - 11:27am

CALGARY, AB – On World Environment Day, June 5 the owners of Hansen Ranch, just east of Waterton Lakes National Park, made a commitment with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to conserve its land and help protect wildlife habitat.

Otto Hansen, who emigrated from Denmark to Canada in 1928, purchased the property and established the ranch in 1935. Three generations of the Hansen family has been living and working on the ranch. Shane Hansen, Otto’s grandson, purchased his first quarter of land in 1983. Then, in 1988, he became a partner with his parents, Earl and Ruth.

In 2003, Shane, his wife, Laurel, and their two sons took over the 365-hectare (903 acre) operation and it’s hoped one of the sons will continue the legacy.

The conservation agreement with NCC voluntarily restricts the development rights on the land. It will ensure that it can continue operating as a working cattle ranch while maintaining the landscape in a natural, healthy, un-fragmented state.

According to the NCC, the Hansen Ranch is located in the headwaters of southern Alberta, which covers four per cent of the province, but provides fresh drinking water to 45 per cent of Albertans.

“The wetlands and streams on Hansen Ranch provide habitat for birds, amphibians and fish. Boundary Creek, a tributary of the St. Mary River, runs through the property. Keeping the riparian area — the areas of habitat along the banks of water bodies — intact and undisturbed will provide source water protection and good quality water to the neighbouring conservation lands and downstream waterways.”

This property also incorporates important habitats, in an area referred to as the Crown of the Continent, for populations of wide-ranging mammals, including gray wolf, wolverine, Canada lynx and fisher. As well, it supports habitat for grizzly bear, which is designated as a species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

A created buffer zone of protected properties surrounding Waterton Park is one of Canada’s most successful private conservation initiatives, which now includes the Hansen Ranch.

NCC supporters include private property owners, such as the Hansen family, the Government of Alberta’s Land Stewardship Grant, and the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. A portion of this project was donated to NCC under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program, which provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically significant land.

To learn more about the Ecological Gifts Program, please visit canada.ca/ecological-gifts.

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