A 1981 agreement between the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan provided for the future establishment of Grasslands National Park, which will eventually encompass 906.4 km2
. More than 60% of the lands required for the park have already been acquired on a "willing-seller willing-buyer" basis.
Situated in the southwestern Saskatchewan PRAIRIES
on the Canada/US border, at first glance the park area appears empty: a gently undulating expanse of sun-scorched plains. But hidden from view are BADLANDS
, meandering rivers and fertile sloughs. The hot, dry summers and cold winters produce an environment that supports a unique flora and fauna, including several species of rare herbs, 2 rare grasses and Canada's only black-tailed PRAIRIE DOGS
. The park also supports pronghorn, coyote, red fox, mule deer and numerous small mammals. Species of reptiles and amphibians, rare elsewhere in Canada, can be found along the Frenchman River valley, including the prairie rattlesnake and horned toad.
Until the 1850s the park area was inhabited only by nomadic native people who hunted throughout the territory. Tipi rings, evidence of their occupation, can be seen in the uplands, near the edges of coulees. Rapid settlement then led to the growth of ranching.
Pronghorn Antelope, Video
(courtesy Karvonen Films)
Grassland in southern Saskatchewan (photo by John de Visser/Masterfile).
Pronghorn Antelope, Grasslands
Pronghorns are unusual because males shed the horn sheath annually (Corel Professional Photos).
Greater Short-horned Lizard
The greater short-horned lizard is found in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan (courtesy Parks Canada).
MAXWELL W. FINKELSTEIN
Links to Other Sites
Grasslands National Park of Canada
Grasslands is the first national park of Canada to preserve a portion of the mixed prairie grasslands.
An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes
A fascinating Parks Canada research report about incorporating traditional Aboriginal values and spiritual views of the natural world into the process of developing national historic site designations.
Planting the Seed
A guide to establishing prairie and meadow communities in Southern Ontario. From Environment Canada.