Site description This stretch of the South Saskatchewan River runs from the Alberta/Saskatchewan border eastward to the ferry crossing at Lancer. It includes the forks where the Red Deer River joins the South Saskatchewan River. The South Saskatchewan River is a fast-flowing river that courses through a narrow flood plain, while the Red Deer is a much slower river that meanders through a wide flood plain. The riparian woodlands of the Estuary-Leader area are the largest remaining riparian woodlands on the South Saskatchewan River between Medicine Hat, Alberta, and Gardiner Dam, Saskatchewan. In addition to this, it is the largest area of deciduous woodland in the south between the Cypress Hills and the aspen parkland regions, 200 km to the north. Wooded areas along the riverbank are dominated by Eastern Cottonwoods while stands of Manitoba Maple occur in the valley near the confluence of these two rivers. The Peach-leaved Willow is the dominant tree species along the Red Deer River above the forks. The westernmost population of Green Ash can be found near Estuary Ferry. Further eastward along the river, eroded cliffs along the riverbank and associated coulees provide breeding sites for raptors. Most of the uplands, above the river valley are cultivated for agriculture, although some native prairie does exist.
Populations of IBA trigger species
||Quality of estimate
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds
||Extent (% of site)
||Temperate deciduous woods
||Steppe & dry calcareous grassland
||Cliffs, rocky shores & islets (freshwater)
|Artificial - terrestrial
||Extent (% of site)
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BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: South Saskatchewan River (Empress to Lancer Ferry). Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2014
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife