The Grassland Region
This natural region is located in the southeast corner of the province. The grasslands are part of larger region known as the Great Plains that stretch from the Canadian Prairie Provinces, through the United States, to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Grassland region takes up most of southern part of Alberta. It then stretches west to the Rocky Mountains, and north to the edge of central Alberta. Landscape features found in the region include lakes, rivers, creeks, ravines, marshes, flat plains, rolling plains, hills, valleys, coulees, and the Badlands. Both igneous and sedimentary rocks can be found in the region, though most is of the sedimentary kind.
The climate of the Grassland area is warm, dry and extremely windy due to the southern location and the nearby Rocky Mountains. Weather systems usually come from the west over the Rockies, dropping most of the rainfall in the interior of B.C., which means that when the systems reach the Grasslands it is dry with little to no precipitation. Temperatures in the summer can reach forty degrees Celsius, and because of the high temperatures and lack of moisture, the soil in the region tends to be very dry.
Due to the dry, windy climate of the region, there are large areas where tree species can’t survive. Trees are present in river valleys, and around lakes and coulees. Other vegetation in the form of grasses, lichens and shrubs can survive on the open plains of the grasslands.
Before European settlement, the grasslands were home to the Blackfoot Indians and thousands of Bison. Once the Europeans arrived, the Bison were hunted to point of extinction, the Blackfoot were forced onto reserves, and agriculture became the main activity in the Grassland region. Many of the native species of grasses were cleared and replaced by fields of grains that are grown as crops. Unfortunately, the clearing of the land wiped out some of the wildlife habitats in the region.
Other problems for the environment caused by human and non-human factors include soil erosion due to high winds and temperatures, soil productivity due to fertilizers and pesticides, and displaced wildlife. Man made irrigation systems also upset ecosystems in the Grassland Natural Region.
The Grassland Natural Region also has four sub-regions. They are: Dry Mixedgrass, Mixedgrass, Northern Fescue, and Foothills Fescue. For further information on the Grassland Natural Region and sub-regions follow this link and choose a sub-region listed above from the menu at the bottom of the page.
All content was adapted from:
Information provided by and printed with the permission of Alberta Community Development, Provincial Parks and Protected Areas.
Alberta Natural Regions Poster Series Manual (Alberta Environmental Protection)