Project Forest Golden Ranches is part of the Golden Ranches Conservation Area located on the shores of South Cooking Lake, Alberta. A mere 30 minute drive from Edmonton, it is part of the Beaver Hills UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a distinct geographic area of boreal mixed wood forest that supports wetlands, small lakes and streams, and critical habitat for many wildlife species.
Beginning in the 1950s, George Golden, a horse and cattle rancher, cleared the 55 hectare site, along with another 670 ha in the area, for his ranch. In 2010, the Golden family donated portions of the ranch to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) and the Alberta Fish and Game Association (AFGA) to allow for public access to the area.
In 2021, Project Forest partnered with the NCC and partner conservation groups to restore this unique site from an unproductive agricultural field back to native boreal mixedwood forest. A rewilding project of this scale requires a lot of time, planning and funding—resources that can be difficult for conservation groups to redirect to a single project location. Project Forest funding partners understand the value of rewilding these spaces, and combined with our forestry expertise, we planted a robust and species-rich forest: cleaning the air and water, providing critical habitat for wildlife and increasing spaces for outdoor recreation.
Through our community of Project Forest partners, we are returning Golden Ranches to a forever forest.