Waterton Parkland Introduction
The Waterton Parkland Area of Concern is approximately 472 square kilometres in size and is found in the extreme south-western corner of the province of Alberta. What makes this area spectacular is that it is the junction of two unique topographical features. The mountains of the continental divide rise abruptly out of undulating grasslands, almost completely without the classic foothills typical in most intervening areas between mountain and prairie. As a result of this crossroads, prairie and mountain species coexist in a relatively small area.
Waterton Parkland is one portion of a larger, international ecosystem termed the “Crown of the Continent” for its position at the narrowest point of the Rocky Mountains.
The Waterton Parkland Area of Concern encompasses Waterton Lakes National Park and surrounding grassland. Waterton Lakes National Park, paired with the adjacent Glacier National Park in the state of Montana, comprises the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is designated a Biosphere Reserve as a part of the United Nation’s Man and Biosphere Program as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Under so many different designations and forms of land ownership, this area is under threat of fragmentation. There is constant pressure for landowners to subdivide their land for holiday housing. In addition, Waterton Parkland’s appeal to hikers, campers and tourists has resulted in associated infrastructure and significant wear-and-tear on the land that needs to be held in check.
- One piece of the Waterton Parkland is protected: the Police Outpost Provincial Park covers 2.2 square kilometers and has been protected since 1895.
- More than 100 square kilometres of the private land within the Waterton Parkland is also protected by conservation easements.