A retired farmer near Hanna, Alta., has donated 380 hectares of undisturbed native grassland to create Alberta’s 76th provincial park.
Gottlob Schmidt, a 90-year-old known as Schmitty, has lived on the land for more than 80 years. He donated his homestead to Alberta Parks to share his love of the land and its wildlife with all Albertans.
“I’m very happy to make this donation to the province and the people of Alberta. I’ve lived on this land since 1933 and my wish is to preserve the land in its natural state for future generations to enjoy,” he said in a release.
Located in east-central Alberta, Antelope Hill Provincial Park has a high ecological value because it has never been cultivated. The area is home to rare native grasslands, aspen groves and wetlands and a variety of wildlife, including the 13-lined ground squirrel, deer and elk.
Schmidt will continue to reside on the land for the immediate future, but when he does leave his homestead the province will open the park to public use and manage the land in accordance with his wishes.
“This is a significant gift from a generous donor who values conservation and preservation of the land. Mr. Schmidt’s offering reflects his passion for our province and its natural beauty, and is a legacy contribution for all Albertans to enjoy,” said Environment Minister Kyle Fawcett in a release.
Once opened to the public, the park will be managed for wildlife purposes and low-impact recreational use, such as hiking. Hunting, camping and vehicle use will not be permitted.
Antelope Hill will increase the provincial parks land base to more than 221,000 hectares and advances the government’s Plan for Parks by acquiring lands for the purpose of conservation.