Species at Risk

Grasslands National Park of Canada and the Prairie Grasslands

What are the Prairie Grasslands?

The sunrises over the Prairie Grasslands
The sunrises over the Prairie Grasslands
© Parks Canada / A. Cornellier / 1988

The Prairie Grasslands are a semi-arid area where there is enough moisture for various grasses to grow, but not enough for forests to grow. Because drought is common on the Prairies, the plants and animals of this unique Canadian ecosystem have developed special adaptations to this environment.

Grass is the dominant vegetation of the Prairies. It has adapted well to drought cycles. Although it may appear that there is nothing out there but an "endless" horizon, don't be fooled! A closer look will reveal a rich, varied and exciting world of special plants and animals.

Some of the different grasses that grow on the Prairie Grasslands
Some of the different grasses that grow on the Prairie Grasslands
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch / 1989

In Grasslands National Park of Canada, researchers have identified over 70 grasses! The dominant native species include:

  • Northern, Slender and Western Wheatgrass;
  • Blue Grama grass;
  • Needle and Thread grass;
  • Green Needle grass;
  • Western Porcupine grass; and
  • June grass.

In addition to grasses, there are a number of mosses, lichens, flowering plants and shrubs and trees. This unique blend of plants make spring, with its seasonal rains, one of the most exciting times to visit the park because visitors can witness the Prairie's revival after its winter sleep.

Where are the Prairie Grasslands found?

The Prairie Grasslands extend from southern Saskatchewan south to Mexico, and from the Rocky Mountains east to the Missouri River watershed.

A beautiful day on the Prairie Grasslands
A beautiful day on the Prairie Grasslands
© Parks Canada / A. Cornellier / 1988

Grasslands National Park, in southern Saskatchewan , is located in one of the largest areas of undisturbed mixed-grass prairie in North America . Many of the prairie lands bordering the park are used for raising cattle and are managed by ranchers, mixed-farmers and pasture managers.

Without the park's neighbours and their undisturbed prairie lands, it would be impossible to protect the park's rich diversity of species. Grasslands National Park relies on these neighbours and their stewardship of the land to ensure that the ecosystem remains healthy.