|Parks and Protected Areas
Suffield National Wildlife Area Information
Protecting an Endangered Prairie Ecosystem
The Department of National Defence (DND) and Environment Canada have long recognized the environmental sensitivity and importance of the prairie grassland within Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield near Medicine Hat, Alberta. They have been active in its management since 1971, when it was zoned “Out of Bounds” to all military training and defence research activities. Since the early 1990s, additional steps have been taken to preserve this pristine area of wilderness:
1992: The Minister of National Defence and the Minister of the Environment sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a portion of CFB Suffield as a National Wildlife Area (NWA).
1999: The DND-Alberta Deep Rights agreement prohibits deep rights access for petroleum development.
2003: The Suffield NWA is officially declared. Environment Canada delegates responsibility for its management and protection to DND. This is the first time that responsibility for an NWA has been transferred. It represents an exciting new method of protecting nationally significant wildlife habitat on federal lands.
Open Spaces are a Haven for Endangered Wildlife
Natural grasslands are among the most endangered ecosystems in Prairie Canada. Urbanization, livestock grazing and rangeland conversion to cropland threaten its survival.
About half the size of Prince Edward Island, CFB Suffield is one of the largest remaining blocks of unploughed grassland in Prairie Canada. It incorporates one of the last large areas of unaltered Dry Mixed Grass Prairie. It is estimated that only 6 percent of this important sub-region of Alberta’s Grassland Natural Region remains unaltered by human disturbance.
The Suffield NWA covers approximately 458 square kilometres within CFB Suffield. Its ecological integrity is noticeably unimpaired, and the diversity and abundance of its native plant and animal species have not declined. This NWA is nationally significant for a number of reasons. For example:
EnCana is Canada’s largest natural gas producer, and the proponent of the shallow gas drilling project at Suffield. Contact EnCana!
Department of National Defence
DND is responsible for the management and protection of the Suffield National Wildlife Area. EnCana has applied to DND for a permit to undertake the drilling project. DND web site.
Environment Canada provides technical support to DND with respect to the Suffield NWA. It is responsible for all the other 50 NWAs in Canada. Environment Canada web site.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
CEAA guides the federal environmental assessment process. CEAA web site.
The government has announced a full and public review of the proposed drilling project. Public hearings are set to be scheduled soon. Other government participants in this process in addition to those listed above include:
Nature Canada is working with other conservation groups to protect the Suffield NWA from expanded industrial activity: