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Red Deer River Naturalists Relaunch Habitat Steward Program

Updated: Feb 15, 2022 February 2, 2022 Contributed by Myrna Pearman, Habitat Steward Coordinator

As the oldest naturalist organization in Alberta, the Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN) have long championed efforts to support wildlife and habitat conservation. In 1987, RDRN launched a land stewardship program – the Habitat Steward Program - to recognize landowners who conserved habitat on private lands.

The program grew and expanded over the next decade, thanks to the dedicated efforts of a team of RDRN volunteers. By 1999, the program had recognized 130 landowners in Central Alberta, who collectively were protecting over 5,445 HA (13,450 acres) of habitat. The program eventually petered out, although many signs can still be seen around the countryside, on the gates of landowners who are still dedicated stewards.

Now, some 25 years later, this important initiative is being relaunched. With funding support from a recent bequest as well as the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, the RDRN Habitat Steward program is being reactivated.

As with the original program, the sole intent of the Habitat Steward Program is to give recognition to landowners who, on their own initiative and at their own expense, conserve at least 2 HA (5 acres) of wildlife habitat on their property. Any landowner, including acreage owners, who live within 100 km of Red Deer are invited to participate.

Participants will receive a gate sign and their habitat details will be entered into a database. Participation does not entail replacing other initiatives, removing lands from agricultural production, placing caveats or other restrictions, allowing access, excluding hunting, preventing grazing, or having any input into land management practices. The only request is that, should the land be altered to the point that it is no longer providing habitat, the sign be returned.

The secondary benefit of the Habitat Steward program is the strong educational awareness it facilitates, as neighbours and passers-by will notice the sign and observe that the landowner has been positively recognized for their efforts.

More details about the program and a copy of the application forms can be found at The forms can be printed out, filled in and mailed in, or submitted online. Gate signs will be delivered to participants in March and April 2022. For more information about the program, please contact Habitat Steward Coordinator, Myrna Pearman at


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