Located about 40 km north of Drumheller, the 241 km2 Rumsey area constitutes the largest remaining tract of aspen parkland in the world. Lying between the southern grasslands and the northern boreal forest, the area is variously known as the Rumsey Block, Rumsey Parkland or Rumsey Wildland.
Rumsey Wildland is a mosaic of trembling aspen woodland, grassland and wetland habitats. This mosaic on the rolling terrain at Rumsey is important for many typical parkland plants and animals. Its biological significance lies mainly in the variety, quality and extent of representative natural habitats.
Aspen Parkland once stretched over 255,000 km2 in the Prairie Provinces. Now, the Central Parkland is the most densely populated of any natural region in Alberta. Much of the native vegetation has been altered or eliminated throughout the Aspen Parkland in North America.
Most of the remaining natural areas are on more heavily rolling or sandy lands that have been difficult to cultivate.
Very little native parkland grassland exists and no sizeable areas remain ungrazed. With the destruction of much of the native habitats in surrounding lands, the 70 sections of public land (and 20 sections of private) in the Rumsey block have become extremely important as a natural refuge.
The Rumsey area is the only large, relatively undisturbed area of aspen groveland on hummocky disintegration moraine left in Canada. It is representative of a landscape that is almost extinct and provides a valuable ecological benchmark.
AWA wants the expedited removal of oil and gas development from Rumsey and real protection of this grassland now. Industrial development is inappropriate in a protected area. The entire Rumsey Block must be managed as one unit. The public must be engaged in the management of the area. There must be no new fragmentation of the rough fescue grasslands, old disturbances must be restored to native condition, and invasive species removed.
- The Rumsey Ecological Reserve (33.5 km2) was established in 1990 in the northern part of the Rumsey Block by Order-in Council 511/90.
- The Rumsey Natural Area (149 km2) was established in August 21,1996 in the southern part of the Rumsey Block by Order-in-Council 390/96 under the provincial Special Places program. This was intended as a 'holding' designation, pending its designation as a Heritage Rangeland, a category that came with Bill 34 amendments to the Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves and Natural Areas Act. Designation as a Heritage Rangeland has not yet occurred.
- Cultural Facilities and Historic Resources Division has identified the entire Rumsey Natural Area as a significant historic resource pursuant to the Historic Resources Act.
Special thanks goes to Dorothy Dickson for a historical overview of Rumsey, most of which has been incorporated in these web pages. Also thanks to Cheryl Bradley for supplying important ecological and historical information.