Grant advances goal of protecting large part of Red Deer River valley

The Nature Conservancy of Canada will be able to work towards conserving 1.2 million acres of land 10 km east of Red Deer, thanks to a $2.4-million donation made by TransCanada Corp.

Jim Prentice

The Nature Conservancy of Canada will be able to work towards conserving 1.2 million acres of land 10 km east of Red Deer, thanks to a $2.4-million donation made by TransCanada Corp.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada works to protect land by either buying property or encouraging landowners to put easements on their property so its natural state is preserved.

The area to be protected is known as the Red Deer River Natural Area and it stretches from north of Bashaw to south of the Rumsey Ecological Reserve and Natural Area. It is considered important because of its productive wetlands, which attract migratory birds and species such as the endangered piping plover and the vulnerable American white pelican.

John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, said a large contribution such as this generates large matching funds, which helps take care of an important natural area and propels the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s campaign across the country.

The three-year investment by TransCanada Corp. has helped the Nature Conservancy to leverage other grants from the Canadian government’s Natural Areas Conservation Program and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, for a total investment of $11 million, of which $5 million will be used for the Red Deer River Natural Area.

The contribution was announced at the Red Deer Lodge on Thursday, shortly before Environment Minister Jim Prentice and TransCanada president and CEO Hal Kvisle spoke at the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Kvisle said TransCanada is a big project company that does large projects all over North America and the company has come to appreciate the need to build infrastructure without having a negative impact on the environment.

“We look around at all the different organizations and we want to be supportive of the environmental movement, of the environmental agenda, and the Nature Conservancy does it the right way,” Kvisle said.

Prentice said the government has put forward a $225-million trust to the Nature Conservancy to fund projects of this nature across Canada.

He said the Red Deer River Natural Area is an extremely important ecosystem and extremely important source of biodiversity in this part of Canada.

“I think it’s a great story for the environment and a great story for the country,” Prentice said.

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