Rich in pre-settlement human history, Grasslands National Park is an extensive area of mixed-grass prairie that is situated on a plateau characterized by numerous eroded gullies in association with the Rock and Morgan Creek drainage systems. It represents one of the largest pieces of undisturbed mixed-grass prairie in North America. Aside from birds, fauna found at this site include Eastern Short-horned Lizards, Eastern Yellowbelly Racers and Prairie Rattlesnakes. In recent years, Swift Foxes (extirpated in Canada 1978) have been reintroduced to the park and their population is currently doing well.
The eastern portion of Grasslands National Park contains excellent habitat for about 40% of the Canadian Sage Grouse population. A total of 315 birds of this nationally endangered species have been tallied at this site, within many different lek areas.
Seven nests of the nationally endangered Burrowing Owl have also been recorded in the park, although not all nests are used each year. Another rare species found here, the Ferruginous Hawk, is listed as vulnerable in Canada. A total of 15 nests of this species have been recorded about half are used each year.
Note: species shown in bold indicate that their population level (as estimated by the maximum number) exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (national, continental or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurence.
Grassland National Park was identified as a potential national park via a 1988 agreement between federal and provincial governments. As of 1996, the national park was comprised of a total of 4502 km, divided between the east and west blocks. The remainder of the park will be purchased on a "willing seller/willing buyer" basis. Tourists are drawn to this site from near and far, but the park's relative isolation and the fact that there are few roads through the region result in a relatively pristine prairie environment. The park permits random camping but the potential for disturbance from this is quite low due to its isolation and lack of tourist amenities. Drought in this arid region could be considered a threat, although vegetation is well adapted for these conditions.
The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife
International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.