FLT currently has three focus areas for protection: riparian areas and wildlife corridors near the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) in the northwest of Foothills County; riparian areas along the Highwood River southwest of High River; and working ranches with native grassland between Black Diamond and Longview.
FLT protects four properties in the ASCCA area totalling 529 acres. One property is adjacent to the ASCCA itself and is principally a working landscape. This property increases the protected area around the ASSCA and provides for wildlife movement in and out of the ASCCA. A small protected property lies to the southwest of the ASCCA and contains a wetland. FLT has talked to landowners in between these two properties with a view to linking them up, but so far without success.
FLT owns a 45-acre property that forms part of a wildlife migration corridor between the ASSCA and the Tsuu T’ina First Nation to the north. The property contains a variety of valuable habitats. It has both mixed wood and coniferous forest and wetlands and stream communities, as well as mixed shrub and grassland communities. The ravine contains an old growth White Spruce community as well as a healthy riparian area with a variety of willow species.
FLT’s fourth property in this area protects about a mile of riparian habitat on both sides of Fish Creek northeast of the Hamlet of Priddis. This is a regionally important water course that later flows through Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary. It is also an important wildlife corridor in an area that is under heavy development pressure.
FLT also has a focus on wildlife corridors and riparian areas along the Highwood River, upstream of the Town of High River. FLT currently holds three Conservation Easements in this area totalling 298 acres. The Highwood riparian area serves as an important corridor for wildlife and functions to protect Highwood River water quality and river habitat.
One of the Conservation Easements covers 24 separate titles that are now under public ownership. These 24 properties were purchased by the Province of Alberta subsequent to the 2013 flood event in Southern Alberta. The titles have now been transferred to Foothills County. FLT has established the Spitzee Riparian Stewardship Society to manage these titles on behalf of Foothills County and FLT.
FLT hopes to add additional easements in this area as other landowners along the Highwood have shown an interest in placing Conservation Easements to conserve wildlife corridors and habitat that complement the properties already under protection.
FLT holds a Conservation Easement on one 135-acre property in this area. Two other land trusts are active in the area and protect significant parcels, including the very large OH Ranch. This is an active ranching area that also has extensive oil and gas operations. Appropriate grazing practices can preserve native vegetation and oil and gas facilities will eventually be abandoned and the landscape reclaimed.
FLT is currently pursuing another opportunity in this area.