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McIntyre Ranch

The largest private conservation agreement in Canadian history

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) are working together to conserve one of the largest remaining tracts of intact Prairie grasslands and wetlands in Canada.

McIntyre Ranch, located south of Lethbridge, encompasses more than 55,000 acres (22,000 hectares) of critical habitat—an area more than a quarter the size of Calgary. The land will be conserved through a conservation easement between the landowners, DUC and NCC. Upon completion, this monumental undertaking will represent the largest conservation agreement in Canadian history.
Have a look at this beautiful landscape and learn why conserving McIntyre Ranch has global significance.
Across the Canadian Prairies, only about 20% of Prairie grasslands remain.

McIntyre Ranch is a rich ecosystem made up of wetlands and grasslands.

These habitats are critical for biodiversity, soil health, clean water, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Donate now to help Ducks Unlimited Canada raise $1 million to support the ongoing conservation of McIntyre Ranch, ensuring it remains healthy and productive for generations to come.

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McIntyre Ranch provides essential habitat for wildlife and species at risk

McIntyre Ranch is recognized for its remarkable biodiversity. On any given day, you may see mule deer, pronghorn or elk. Even grizzly bears and the yellowed bellied marmot, uncommon in Alberta, have been spotted. Of the more than 150 plant and wildlife species that have been documented on the property, 13 are designated as species at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

A paradise for pintails

McIntyre Ranch is designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, with the surrounding Milk River Ridge landscape recognized as a continentally important breeding area for northern pintail ducks.

Why is conserving landscapes like McIntyre Ranch important?

Across the Canadian Prairies, only about 20 per cent of Prairie grasslands remain. This makes the 55,000 acres (22,000 hectares) found at McIntyre Ranch extremely valuable. And scattered throughout the ranch’s magnificent grasslands are more than 3,600 wetland basins.

Together the grasslands and wetlands protected by this conservation project provide a host of services that are essential to our environmental and economic wellbeing, including:

Erosion prevention and promoting soil health

Erosion prevention and promoting soil health

Our soil is an active, living, breathing ecosystem. It is what gives our planet life, but it needs to be cared for so it will continue to regenerate and sustain us.

Water purification and groundwater recharge

Water purification and groundwater recharge

Wetlands act as natural water filters, trapping sediment and pollution that would otherwise end up in our lakes and rivers. They also help regulate our water levels, mitigating the effects of floods and droughts.



Biodiversity includes the variety of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms that work together to create healthy, balanced ecosystems that sustain life.

Learn more about our efforts to protect grasslands

Temperate grasslands like those found on the McIntyre Ranch are one of the most at-risk ecosystems on the planet.

“We are grateful to be partnering with NCC and DUC as we work together and share the responsibility to conserve prairie grasslands. This relationship will help us achieve our sustainable ranching practices in conjunction with our ‘balance with nature’ philosophy. We are proud to play a role in conserving something that is the way that it used to be.”
– Ralph A. Thrall III, President & CEO, McIntyre Ranching Co. Ltd

Ralph A. Thrall III, President & CEO, McIntyre Ranching Co. Ltd

The Thrall family is continuing a legacy of sustainable land stewardship

Ensuring the sustainability of the land has been paramount to the operations at McIntyre Ranch since day one. McIntyre Ranch was founded in 1894 by W.H. McIntyre. The property was purchased by Ralph Thrall in 1948. Today, it is owned by his four grandchildren and managed by his grandson, Ralph Thrall III.

The Thrall family has worked closely with DUC and NCC to protect the natural integrity of McIntyre’s grasslands and wetlands. This will ensure McIntyre Ranch stays a breathtaking and vital landscape forever, while remaining a working cattle ranch owned by the Thralls.

Partnership in action

Numerous individuals, organizations and corporations have already supported this effort to conserve McIntyre Ranch. Cenovus Energy, the Weston Family Foundation, the Gerald A. Cooper Key Foundation, Plains Midstream and Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s have all made impactful contributions toward making this project a reality.

Thanks to generous donors, the project will also receive matched funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant program.

This project is supported by the Government of Alberta’s Land Trust Grant Program, part of the Land Stewardship Fund, and the Government of Canada, through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of the Canada Nature Fund.

A portion of this project was donated by McIntyre Ranching Co. Ltd. to the Nature Conservancy of Canada under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program. This program provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically significant land.