Parks Canada

Parks Canada

May 19, 2011 09:30 ET

Government of Canada Announces Expansion of Grasslands National Park

Largest land acquisition since the Grasslands National Park was established in 1988

GRASSLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - May 19, 2011) - The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and MP David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills–Grasslands (Saskatchewan), today announced the historic Dixon family ranchlands of the Frenchman River Valley in Southwest Saskatchewan will be preserved and protected for future generations as part of Grasslands National Park of Canada.

"The addition of these lands to Grasslands National Park is a great act of conservation for future generations and I would like to recognize and thank the Dixon family for their contribution to this legacy," said Minister Kent. "This latest expansion to Canada's national parks demonstrates the Harper Government's strong commitment to the conservation of our nation's natural and cultural heritage."

"The people of Saskatchewan have a long legacy of good land management," said MP Anderson. "Grasslands National Park and its recent expansion would not have been possible without the long term stewardship of the ranchers and local communities. It is through their safekeeping that we are now able to share this natural and cultural prairie heritage with all Canadians."

"We think that parks are for people and it's comforting to know our ranch will be a place for visitors to enjoy and come back to. We are pleased they will have the chance to see how a large ranch operated in harmony with nature and has been a home for many rare species for many generations," said Bruce Dixon of the Dixon family ranchland.

In this centennial year, as the world's first national parks service, Parks Canada is continuing to build on its international leadership position with tremendous momentum. Starting with the creation of the first national park in Banff in 1885, by 2006 Canada had set aside over 277,000 km2 of lands and waters in national parks and national marine conservation areas. In the past five years alone, the Government of Canada has taken steps that will add more than 130,000 km2 to the lands and waters administered by Parks Canada - up to a 48 percent increase since 2006. Among this growth is the six-times expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve in 2009 and the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

This most recent land transaction of approximately 111 sq. km. (11,137 hectares) within the West Block of Grasslands National Park's existing boundary is significant for its spectacular scenery and native grassland which includes critical habitat for species at risk. This acquisition also represents important cultural heritage value as it was the historic Dixon's Diamond T Ranch. The lands are pending formal title transfer from the Government of Saskatchewan and will be in a transition period with the Dixon family until December 31, 2013, at which time Parks Canada will acquire full administration and management.

The creation of Grasslands National Park of Canada was formally provided for in 1988 with the signing of the Grasslands National Park Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan. Officially proclaimed a national park in 2001, Grasslands National Park is located in southwest Saskatchewan and comprised of two blocks of land. It is the first national park to preserve a portion of the northern mixed prairie grasslands. Together with the surrounding ranch lands, the 921 sq. km. that lie within its existing boundaries represent one of the finest examples of intact mixed grass prairie habitat in Canada.

To date, 85% of the West Block of Grasslands National Park, or more than 432 sq. km of mixed grass prairie, has been acquired through a willing seller-willing buyer program to be preserved and protected for present and future generations of Canadians. Parks Canada recognizes the valuable role that the Government of Saskatchewan has played in the on-going establishment and development of the park.

Parks Canada works to ensure Canada's historic and natural heritage is presented and protected for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of all Canadians, today and in the future. Through a network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, Parks Canada sets the stage and invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    819-997-1441

    Irene LeGatt - External Relations Manager
    Saskatchewan South Field Unit
    Parks Canada
    306-975-5814 (office)
    306-221-8092 (cell)
    www.twitter.com/parkscanada