Neal Wilson & Shannon Burnard, along with their family, are the ranch managers at Antelope Creek Ranch (ACR), a working livestock operation that doubles as a Habitat Development Area situated just west of Brooks, Alberta. Wilson and Burnard have been on the ranch since 2005, bringing with them a wealth of information in agriculture, land & resource management, wetland maintenance, and grassland conservation.
As managers of ACR, they not only oversee the day-to-day stewardship of the ranch, but also are actively involved in several habitat enhancement projects. Recently, they—in partnership with OGC—installed Land EKG transects to measure both pasture productivity and wildlife habitat suitability. In summer 2015, one of the Land EKG transects was supplemented with a wildlife camera and an autonomous recording unit (ARU) to capture wildlife sightings and vocalizations, which will be linked back to the habitat suitability measurements gathered from the Land EKG data. Other projects have included wildlife-friendly fencing; with the help of a volunteer crew, roughly 8 miles of fencing has been installed this year, affecting almost the entire property.
The ranch itself has served as a study area for several research initiatives. Work on the effects of invasive plant species has led to the creation of an Invasive Plant Management Plan, and examinations of several aspects of grassland songbird nesting and reproductive success have been published in scientific journals like The Condor and the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
In the Brooks area? Give them a shout and take a tour of the ranch. See for yourself how the stewardship of The Antelope Creek Ranch by the Wilson/Burnard family is a prime example of how ranching, research, and conservation are intertwined.