Alberta’s land trusts: making a 43,000 acre difference

Let’s set the stage: 

Photo of a moose

The conserved area around the Ministik Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of wildlife

The Bow & Beyond Initiative has taken a unique approach to advancing riparian health and watershed conservation on the banks of the Bow river. Because of these efforts, new watershed partnerships are being forged in the Calgary region – and more and more people are becoming passionate about stewardship.

Several hours away is the Ministik International Game Bird Sanctuary, a large swath of aspen parkland and wetland in Camrose County. The sanctuary is one of the only conserved pieces of land in an area that is mostly farmland – and it’s recently become 160 acres bigger, surrounded by a special conservation zone that extends the protection of the sanctuary while also enhancing it.

Now, the question: do you know what these projects have in common?

The answer: both of them are land trust projects operated by non-profit organizations and funded in part by grants from the government of Alberta.

What are land trusts?

Land trusts are unique projects that partner conservation organizations with private landowners to conserve native landscape and important animal habitat. Land trusts can work in a variety of ways – they might involve the establishment of protected areas, remediation of key habitat, public education, and/or the creation of stewardship groups.

The common denominator is community: these projects leverage local expertise and bring people together.

Applications for the 2013 Alberta Land Trust Grant Program are now open!

Since 2011, the government of Alberta’s Land Trust Grant Program has awarded a total of about $20 million to projects that have successfully conserved more than 43,000 acres of land. Applications for the 2013 funding period are now open – land trusts can find information on qualifying and how to apply here.

To celebrate the start of another year of great projects, we want to share some of the program’s success stories with you. Next week, we’ll feature profiles of unique four land trusts that have used grant money to make big differences across Alberta – starting with a first-hand account of how the Bow & Beyond initiative has been impacted by recent flooding. Stay tuned!

Photo of a lookout station on the bank of the Bow river

The Legacy Island Lookout – developed as part of the Bow & Beyond Initiative – in Fall 2012.

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