Sylvia and John Walters at the Ferrier property in Stettler County that was recently donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). ECA Review/ Brent Calver photo
Wet lands on the northwest shore of Gough Lake will be preserved after a Stettler County family donated 1,467 acres to the not-for-profit conservation organization Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
The land was donated to NCC by descendants of brothers Tom and John Ferrier who came to Canada from Scotland in 1904 and settled on the edge of Gough Lake, which is located in Stettler County.
“This property is really valuable in terms of its size,” Alia Snively, NCC Natural Area Manager Central Alberta, said in a phone interview Feb. 2. “It’s a large chunk of land and the fact that it has native grasslands, and wetlands and the shoreline habitat of Gough lake makes it really important for waterfowl as well other birds that migrate through the area and other wildlife that inhabit the area. It’s very kind of the family to donate it to us.”
Of the 1,467 donated acres, 256 acres are wetlands and shoreline habitat essential for deer, small mammals, grassland birds, shorebirds and waterfowl in the area.
There are species on the donated land that are considered at risk, including Baird’s sparrow (special concern) and Sprague’s pipit (threatened).
Gough Lake borders the land and provides both year-round and seasonal habitat for a variety of species, including the threatened loggerhead shrike.
NCC announced the donation last week for World Wetlands Day as part of one of its four new wetland conservation projects in the county.
According to the Institute of Wetlands and Waterfowl Research, 64 per cent of the slough and marsh wetlands in Alberta have disappeared.
This project was made possible to the donation of the late Agnes Isabelle (Nancy) Ferrier and her family. Nancy left the site to NCC in her will.
“This property has come full circle, from being homesteaded in 1904, to going back to nature the way it was in 1904,” said Sylvia Walters, a member of the Ferrier family in a statement.
Snively said NCC had the land assessed last summer.
“The property is quite healthy so we don’t have to do too much to restore its health. It’s more just looking at how we can responsibly graze on the property.”
Snively said the NCC has a grazing plan to protect the native grass and wetlands.