Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures and Protected Areas in the Meewasin Valley
The Meewasin Valley Authority has a critical role in conserving natural spaces within Saskatoon and the surrounding area. The Meewasin Valley Authority’s jurisdiction follows the South Saskatchewan River Valley and connected ecological corridors. This region is rich in diverse ecosystems, including native grasslands, wetlands, and riparian zones.
Recognizing Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures and Protected Areas helps the Meewasin Valley Authority make progress toward its goal of restoring at least 25 percent of land within the Meewasin Valley annually to maintain biodiversity in a rapidly growing region.
In 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Meewasin Valley Authority collaborated to review and assess nine Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures and seven Protected Areas within the Meewasin Valley, to be entered into the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database.
Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures:
Fred Heal Canoe Launch—8.37 hectares
This recreational area provides opportunities for public access along the South Saskatchewan River. The Meewasin Valley Authority also manages it for the conservation of biodiversity, with a series of bylaws that protect wildlife and prohibit activities that would disrupt native vegetation and wildlife. The northern leopard frog forages here.
Chief Whitecap Park Off-Leash Area—30.2 hectares
Chief Whitecap Park is named after the former leader of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. A portion of the uplands of Chief Whitecap Park has been dedicated as an off-leash dog park. This portion of the park includes a former hayfield that has been restored by the Meewasin Valley Authority to native grass species in order to provide supplementary habitat for wildlife and native plants.
Gabriel Dumont Park—4.49 hectares
Gabriel Dumont Park is located along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, within the city of Saskatoon. The majority of the park is in a naturalized state that was transformed from a cultivated landscape into a landscape more indicative of the naturally occurring prairie grassland ecosystem. It was repopulated with a mix of native and non-native plants. The area is now a fully functioning naturalized park, which also includes typical urban park elements such as walking trails, a children’s play village, picnic tables, and washroom facilities.
Cosmopolitan Park—10.97 hectares
Cosmopolitan Park is a natural space park that consists of forest and shrubland and is home to numerous wildlife species. This park is a migratory bird concentration site and habitat for the olive-sided flycatcher and western grebe (both of special concern), the barn swallow (threatened), and the little brown myotis (endangered). This park is considered to be one of the best wildlife watching parks in Saskatoon, and is a great bird-watching site to view migratory and nesting birds.
Meewasin Park—42.81 hectares
Meewasin Park is a migratory bird concentration site that includes large sections of well-maintained grass lawns; groves of trees, primarily willow and birch tree species; shrubs, mainly cottonwood; some wildflowers; a creek; and a riparian zone along the water’s edge. It provides habitat for the barn swallow (threatened), Harris’s sparrow, the rusty blackbird, and the olive-sided flycatcher (all of special concern), as well as the whooping crane and lake sturgeon (both endangered) species.
Victoria Park—18.27 hectares
Victoria Park is a natural area in the heart of downtown, along the South Saskatchewan River. The area is near neighbourhoods and contains predominantly elm and Manitoba maple groves, shrubs, some wildflowers, and a riparian edge along the water. It also provides habitat for the barn swallow (threatened), Harris’s sparrow, the olive-sided flycatcher, and the western grebe (all of special concern), as well as the little brown myotis (endangered).
Diefenbaker Park Riparian Zone—6.07 hectares
The riparian zone of Diefenbaker Park consists of a mixed stand of predominantly native trees and shrubs along the river. This area provides excellent bird habitat and is a critical part of the ecological corridor through the Saskatoon region.
Peggy McKercher Conservation Area—12.02 hectares
The Peggy McKercher Conservation Area, named in honour of the Meewasin Valley Authority’s first board chair, features beautiful river vistas, a native tree and shrub riparian zone with natural springs, and uplands with significant cultural history.
Poplar Bluffs Conservation Area—8.49 hectares
The Poplar Bluffs Conservation Area is named for the large balsam poplars that grow in the riparian forest area of this site. The uplands provide grassland bird habitat, while the shoreline includes sandbars that are being naturally revegetated with pioneer tree and shrub species, such as willow and poplar.
Beaver Creek Conservation Area—133.61 hectares
The Beaver Creek Conservation Area is where prairie creek meets prairie river, a microcosm of the Meewasin Valley and home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. This area is a key part of the regional wildlife corridor. Beaver Creek contains remnant sandhill prairie complexes that provide a unique habitat for grassland birds, wildflowers, and habitat for numerous species at risk.
Chief Whitecap Park—117.18 hectares
This park is part of the riparian zone of the South Saskatchewan River, and is a former rifle range operated by the Department of National Defence during World War II. The uplands are former cropland and hayland, which were restored to native grass species by the Meewasin Valley Authority in the early 2000s to provide habitat for grassland birds, wildlife, and native plants. This park provides habitat for at least 11 species at risk or rare species, including the bobolink.
Yorath Island—68.95 hectares
Yorath Island is named for one of Saskatoon’s early city commissioners, Christopher J. Yorath. The island did not exist when the land was first surveyed in 1903, but formed later when the river channel cut through the bank. It supports a dense mix of trees and shrubbery, along with wildlife such as Cooper’s hawk, coyotes, red fox, river otter, porcupine, beaver, and deer. It is also one of the northernmost examples of a cottonwood forest in North America.
Saskatoon Natural Grasslands—13.89 hectares
Saskatoon Natural Grasslands is a remnant native prairie nestled in a suburban neighbourhood. It shelters nearly 200 species of plants and a variety of native birds and animals. The site is also home to more than 25 species of butterflies. This fescue grassland is not just grass, but an ecosystem—a complex association of grasses, flowering and non-flowering plants, birds, animals, and insects.
Wilson Island—41.56 hectares
Wilson Island was the site of a sea cadet training camp from 1943 to 1951. The site is a sandy river island on the South Saskatchewan River between Cranberry Flats and the Poplar Bluffs Conservation Area. The island floods during high water events, resulting in unique riparian forest habitats. The forest contains large eastern cottonwoods and green ash, and provides important habitat for spring and fall bird migrations.
Cranberry Flats Conservation Area—74.84 hectares
The Cranberry Flats Conservation Area is a scenic area with large sandy beaches and native prairie grasslands. The site is named after the highbush cranberry, which grows along the river flats. The site used to include an old rural municipal garbage dump and a ski hill tow rope. The Meewasin Valley Authority’s prescribed fire and conservation grazing programs have largely returned the site to its former natural glory. This site also provides important habitat for species at risk, including Gibson's big sand tiger beetle, which uses the active sand dunes on the site for its habitat.
Floodplain Flats—52.07 hectares
The Floodplain Flats are located along the western bank of the South Saskatchewan River across from the Beaver Creek Conservation Area and includes the northern leopard frog, a species of special concern. The site is near a migratory bird concentration site. Trees, shrubs, and a few sandy patches cover the area, along with a large riparian forest.
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