Donation preserves central Alberta wetlands and grasslands

Sylvia and John Walters at the 1,500-acre Ferrier property donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
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A central Alberta farm family has gifted 1,467 acres on the northwest shore of Gough Lake to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The Ferrier property, located 125 kilometres east of Red Deer, has 256 acres of wetlands and shoreline habitat that is home to deer, grassland birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Several species considered at risk have been spotted on the property, including Baird’s sparrow and Sprague’s pipit. One-third of the land consists of increasingly rare native grassland — less than five per cent of native fescue grasslands remain in Canada.

The property was donated by the late Agnes Isabelle (Nancy) Ferrier, who left the property to the conservancy in her will. Her father John and uncle Tom had homesteaded on the property after emigrating from Scotland in 1904.

“The family is absolutely delighted,” said Sylvia Walters, a member of the Ferrier family. “John and Nancy, the children of the John Ferrier who settled here from Scotland, never had any children of their own, so this was their wish.

“This property has come full circle, from being homesteaded in 1904 to going back to nature the way it was in 1904.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has helped protect more than 2.8 million acres nationally, including more than 280,000 acres in Alberta. The provincial and federal government and other donors contributed to the securement and ongoing stewardship of the Ferrier conservation project.

The Ferrier property is 
home to several hundred 
acres of increasingly rare 
native grassland. photo: Brent Calver

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