Creating a conservation legacy in the Crowsnest: The Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor

Nature Conservancy Canada’s wildlife corridor initiative gets $500,000 boost from Enbridge

According to government data, Highway 3 sees more than 8,000 cars a day at Blairmore, Alberta.

Wildlife need their highways too—especially in that same Crowsnest Pass.

The Crowsnest Pass is considered one of the most important wildlife corridors needing protection in North America. It naturally funnels north-south wildlife movement through Alberta, British Columbia and Montana—and it’s a critical link in the broader Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative.

All of which makes the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor an extremely high priority for Nature Conservancy Canada.

“It’s a very important piece for us. The Crowsnest Pass is a key hinge point where animals move all through the corridor. It’s at the northern tip of some species’ range, and the southern tip of other species’ range,” says Craig Harding, the NCC’s director of conservation and science planning.

“It’s a key place of movement for a variety of large and small mammal species—elk, moose, grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, wolverine, cougars, fishers—that need the entire mountain range to roam.”

Similar to the Ross Creek Corridor further to the east, the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is a band of private land connecting the Castle Wildland Provincial Park and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, to the south, with Crown forest reserve and Kananaskis Country to the north.

The Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is a strip of land that NCC hopes to conserve over time. It is about five kilometres wide, east to west, and is bordered to the north and south by public land. While the NCC first purchased land in the corridor in 2002, the organization officially launched its campaign in October 2018 to raise $6.1 million to conserve additional properties in the area and build on the existing protection.

To date, more than $4 million has been raised to continue the efforts in the corridor and to conserve this key wildlife habitat in perpetuity.

The corridor is named for the late Jim Prentice—a longtime Member of Parliament in Calgary, Premier of Alberta, and onetime Enbridge employee—who developed a deep appreciation of nature in the Crowsnest Pass.

“While he was federal Environment Minister, Jim was quite supportive of the private land conservation work that we do at the NCC. At the same time, he was instrumental in the creation of the wildlife crossings in Banff National Park, which are recognized now as the international benchmark,” says NCC director of development and communication Steven Ross.

“Once the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is complete, we’ll work with the Alberta provincial government to explore potential wildlife crossing structure options over Highway 3, as well.”

Enbridge’s $500,000 donation to the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is one example of our commitment to sustainability—helping to meet North America’s growing energy needs in ways that are economically, environmentally and socially responsible.

Enbridge’s donation to the corridor will be used to purchase and steward private lands within the corridor’s focus area. Funds will be used for both the purchase of land and the long-term stewardship of the corridor to ensure it continues to function as this critical habitat linkage.

The Prentice family “are pleased that the Nature Conservancy of Canada is honoring Jim in this special way,” said Karen Prentice upon the corridor campaign launch last fall. “It is a fitting tribute to his connection to the Crowsnest Pass and passion for nature.”