Thursday, April 14, 2016

The future of a famous southern Alberta ranch owned by eccentric multi-millionaire brothers is finally secure

An historic southern Alberta ranch once owned by eccentric multi-millionaire brothers will now be protected from future development. The King Ranch, located along Highway 22 (the Cowboy Trail), has been added to the Waldron Conservation Project, the largest conservation easement in Canadian history. The lands now protected extend to 16,562 hectares of ecologically important grasslands, and is linked to other protected lands in the area, such as the 28,000-hectare Bob Creek Wildland Park (commonly known as the Whaleback) and the 39,000-hectare Porcupine Hills Forest Reserve. Both the provincial ($1.8 million) and federal governments contributed funding to the conservation project, along with private donors and the Waldron co-op, a group of local ranchers who share the land to graze their cattle. “The purpose of the gazing co-op at its inception in 1962 was to provide more grass to benefit shareholders’ existing ranches. Our founders would be proud of the way Waldron is protecting the watershed and utilizing better grazing practices,” said Gerald Vandervalk, chair of the co-op board. The Waldron co-op bought the King Ranch in 2014 for $11.25 million with funds received from a conservation easement the Nature Conservancy purchased on the Waldron Ranch the year prior. The ranch had last been owned by Bill and Cody Bateman of Cochrane but is renowned for its original owners, Harrold and Maurice King, who died in the 1990s. The bachelor brothers lived together for 60 years in a log cabin on the property. They lived in self-imposed isolation without electricity or indoor plumbing, and were often seen wearing old pants held up by twine suspenders. But despite their frugality they were well-read and shrewd businessmen who poured all their money back into the ranch...more

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