Federal nature protection program expands to County of Stettler

Habitat for many animals – Rockland Bay features a lot of wetlands and shrublands and is home to several distinct species like mule deer

A three-way partnership among the Canadian government, Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) and TransCanada corporation is helping to expand protected natural areas with the latest move involving a property at the northern tip of County of Stettler.

Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson, flanked by officials from Nature Conservancy of Canada and TransCanada corporation announced the acquisition of Rockland Bay property under a project with a total financial profile of $380,610.

Speaking on behalf of Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Sorenson said the acquisition for conservation of the property was a concrete example of the real action taken by the federal government to protect Canada’s nature and heritage.

“As part of the International Year of Biodiversity, funding from Environment Canada is helping to secure this important and ecologically-sensitive area,” said MP Sorenson.

“Through conservation planning and habitat restoration, future generations of Canadians will be able to enjoy this important area. The diversity of the habitat in this area helps species that call the Rockland Bay property home, such as mule deer, coyote, moose and red-tailed hawk.”

Located approximately 25 km north of the Town of Stettler and 2.4 km north east of Buffalo Lake, the 150-acre property falls within the Red Deer River Natural Area, and is identified as an ecologically important area by NCC.

“The property consists of aspen stands, shrublands and wetlands,” NCC said in a press release.

Bob Demulder, NCC regional vice-president for Alberta, said federal government was the biggest contributor to the project, donating 80 percent of the funds, with 15 per cent coming from TransCanada and the reamining five per cent from private and public donations to NCC.

Demulder said the acquisition of Rockland Bay property, which cost about $230,000, was an important step in linking areas in the Red Deer region into a wider protected zone.

The partnership between Canadian government and NCC started in March 2007 with the decision of the federal government to invest $225 million to the nature conservation program.

According to figures provided by Environment Canada, as of March 2010, 342,500 acres of land have been secured under this program, which constitutes 60 per cent of the target set for the whole program.

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