As the agency representing the landowner interest on public lands, the Special Areas Board is concerned with maintaining the integrity of native prairie landscapes. Within the Special Areas, industrial oil & gas activity (most recently the development of petroleum & electricity transmission lines) has been steadily increasing on native prairie landscapes. The Special Areas Board recognizes the shift in focus from reclamation to restoration of native prairie ecosystems acknowledged in the 2010 Reclamation Criteria for Wellsites and Associated Facilities in Native Grasslands (Alberta Environment, 2011).
The use of development planning and pre-disturbance assessment is important in successful restoration of the native prairie ecosytems to their pre-disturbance ecological conditions. Tools such as the Recovery Strategies for Industrial Development in Native Prairie (AESRD, 2013), Range Plant Community Guides & Range Health Assessment Guidelines (Adams et al) and Grassland Vegetation Inventory (GVI) are useful in determining the ability of native plant communities. Links to several of these resources are provided below.
The Special Areas land base covers parts of four natural subregions as identified in the map below. Reclamation practitioners must understand the restoration opportunities and limitations pertaining to the uniqueness of each subregion.