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The biophysical features of Kirkpatrick Prairie include beaver ponds, moist meadows, and parkland.

The Kirkpatrick Prairie is a highly variable natural area with a largely intact native prairie. As Alberta has experienced significant losses of important native prairie habitat, it is imperative that we limit surface disturbance of our remaining native grasslands.

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    000000_map_web_east_hills_dunes_prarie Kirkpatrick Prairie. Photo credit C. Wallis

    The Kirkpatrick Native Prairie is an Environmentally Significant Area of Alberta, located west of Red Deer and south of Highway 12. Kirkpatrick Lake borders the western edge of this natural area and is a lake of significant waterfowl production.

    The Kirkpatrick Prairie has an estimated 50-75% native prairie remaining, making it an internationally significant area. Natural subregions include both dry mixedgrass and northern fescue.

    Northern Fescue Natural Subregion

    • Vegetation is transitional between prairie and parkland, showing characteristics of both regions
    • Dominated by plains rough fescue, Alberta’s provincial grass
    • Grasses on the driest sites include blue grama, northern wheat grass, sand grass, and June grass. Moister sites contain western porcupine grass, plains rough fescue, northern wheatgrass, and porcupine grass.
    • Other plant species include balsam poplar, aspen, plains cottonwood, willow, sedge, bulrush, and common cattail.

    Dry Mixedgrass Natural Subregion

    • “Mixedgrass” refers to the mixture of short and mid-height grasses. The most widespread grasses in this subregion are blue grama, needle-and-thread, June grass, and western wheat grass. In spring and summer, many species of wildflowers are sprinkled among the grasses.
    • Shrubs include silver sagebrush, silverberry (also known as wolf willow), buckbrush, and prickly rose.
    • Along river valleys, tall forest and shrub communities thrive, including plains cottonwood, willow, and thorny buffaloberry.

     

    As Alberta has experienced significant losses of important native prairie habitat, it is imperative that we limit surface disturbance of remaining native prairie.

    Some notable biophysical features in the Kirkpatrick Prairie include:

    • Significant fescue prairie communities – about 50% of the area is native prairie
    • Excellent habitat for terrestrial breeding birds
    • Kirkpatrick Lake has significant waterfowl production
    • Dune systems
    • Beaver ponds and ephemeral ponds scattered around the area
    • Soils are a mixture of solonetzic, sandy, and loamy soil

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    2004

    Another letter by Conservation Biologist Lara Smandych is sent to the Minister of Energy regarding the fate of several leases in the Kirkpatrick Prairie area of concern. It is another plea to the Energy Minister that more of Alberta’s diverse natural regions and sub-regions need to be protected.

    2002
    Letters are written to the Minister of Energy Murray Smith by AWA Conservation Specialist Tamaini Snaith and Conservation Biologist Lara Smandych on behalf of the association opposing the sale of several leases in the Kirkpatrick Prairie area of concern. The letters are to ensure that the leases currently located within the Kirkpatrick Prairie ESA are protected and contribute to the conservation of Alberta’s wilderness.

    March 31, 1997

    Kirkpatrick Native Prairie is identified as an environmentally significant area (ESA) for the presence of ground moraines, sandy plains, dune fields, streams, wet meadows, and alkali wetlands. The site has the potential for becoming a level 1 Natural History Theme (NHT), as conditions found in the area are under-represented in current protected areas. The area which has been identified as Northern Fescue and Dry Mixedgrass sub-regions is 50-75% native prairie with the remaining 25-50% representing patches of cultivation and lightly grazed areas. The land is excellent habitat for for rare avian species.

    Some notable biophysical features in the Kirkpatrick Prairie include:

    • Significant fescue prairie communities – about 50% of the area is native prairie
    • Excellent habitat for terrestrial breeding birds
    • Kirkpatrick Lake has significant waterfowl production
    • Dune systems
    • Beaver ponds and ephemeral ponds scattered around the area
    • Soils are a mixture of solonetzic, sandy, and loamy soil

     

    20101117_Kirkpatrick_Prairie_TR_v3

    Township and Range map: JPG | PDF

    20101117_Kirkpatrick_Prairie_NSR_v3

    Natural Subregions map: JPG | PDF

    20101117_Kirkpatrick_Prairie_ESA_v3

    Environmentally Significant Areas: JPG | PDF

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"Away, away from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs- To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "To Jane: An Invitation," 1822
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