Prairie Pastures Conservation Area
The Prairie Pastures Conservation Area is an important wildlife habitat area in Saskatchewan. Many species, including 12 species at risk, live in or visit this area.
The Prairie Pastures Conservation Area, in southwest Saskatchewan, consists of 80,093 hectares (ha) in three adjacent pastures:
- Battle Creek
These pastures are among the most ecologically significant grassland in Canada. These lands are also significant to Indigenous Peoples. Many First Nations and Metis have cultural and spiritual connections to the area south of the Cypress Hills.
By managing the pastures for conservation, we are able to conserve the grassland ecosystem and habitat for many species at risk.
Prairie Pastures Conservation Area is also a Nationally Significant Important Bird Area. The land supports a significant numbers of grassland birds found only in the central Great Plains of North America.
The creeks that begin north of the area, in the Cypress Hills, provide riparian habitat for the birds. The sagebrush and short-grass prairie support many important bird species. During the spring, the fields of the pastures are alive with bird song.
The pastures protect critical sagebrush habitat for the endangered sage-grouse.
Many grassland bird species are in trouble because of habitat loss. Healthy undisturbed grassland habitats are disappearing in North America. The pastures will protect important native grass habitat for many threatened grassland birds.
Birds listed as species at risk under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) include:
- greater sage-grouse
- burrowing owl
- ferruginous hawk
- chestnut-collared longspur
- McCown’s longspur
- Sprague’s pipit
- long-billed curlew
- short-eared owl
- Baird’s sparrow
- mountain plover
The lands also allows predators to thrive. Ferruginous hawks nest on buildings and platforms. Burrowing owls also nest and rear their young in the pastures. Swift fox are a common sight.
Both the swift fox and the northern leopard frog are listed under the Species at Risk Act. The prairies are important habitat for them and for the pronghorn.
The pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America. It can reach speeds up to 95 km/h. Pronghorn have a longer migration distance than most land animals, and their quick movement helps them cover more ground. The fragmentation of prairie land can block migration routes for these animals.
Additional ecological significance
Grasslands such as these also have global importance as carbon sinks. A carbon sink absorbs more carbon than it releases as carbon dioxide (CO2), known as carbon sequestration. This is an important aspect for mitigating climate change.
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) previously managed the pastures. Under the PFRA, cattle grazing was carefully managed to restore grassland health and support biodiversity. These pastures were important for local ranching communities.
The prairie pasture will continue to allow ranchers to use the land for sustainable cattle grazing. This practice replicates natural bison grazing and is an important part of keeping the landscape healthy. The Prairie Pasture Conservation Area is an excellent example of a working landscape where sustainable cattle grazing supports healthy habitat for wildlife.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) leads the planning and management activities of the Prairie Pastures Conservation Area. The following stakeholders are jointly developing a strategy to manage the pasture:
- local landowners
- Indigenous Peoples
- conservation groups
The lands are managed to protect:
- the natural heritage of wildlife
- the cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples
- the needs of local ranching communities
Map of the area
Map is showing the Prairie Pastures Conservation Area in the southwest Saskatchewan. The boundaries of Govenlock, Battle Creek and Nashlyn pastures are indicated. The Conservation area covers all or part of several small bodies of water. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water and highways are all indicated on the map. An inset national map situates the Conservation Area in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only. It should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||Conservation Area|
|Latitude/longitude||49.110° N, 109.766° W|
|Date created (Gazetted)||N/A|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources (VI)|
|Keystone or flagship species||To be determined through management planning with stakeholders|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)||Endangered:|
|Main habitat type||Grassland|
|Invasive species||Leafy spurge|
|Management Agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada|
|Public access and usage||Right of entry licenses are issued by CWS Prairie Region|
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the conservation area, the notice prevails. The notice is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie Region
115 Perimeter Road
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Report a problem or mistake on this page
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