Operating under the Fort McKay Strategic Services LP umbrella our Environment division was formed to meet a growing demand for environmental responsibility in the oil sands industry. In conjunction with Syncrude Canada, we operate the well-respected Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch which has a herd of 300 prize-winning registered Wood Bison stock.
We are responsible for the daily operations of the ranch, including feeding and watering the animals, repairing fences, sorting the animals for sale or harvest, calving, and pasture management, including pasture rejuvenation. The Beaver Creek Wood Bison herd consistently receives awards and acknowledgements for the quality and health of the animals and we are proud to be a part of this important initiative.
Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch
What is the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch?
- The award-winning Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch is a joint venture between Syncrude Canada Ltd. and the Fort McKay First Nation.
- For the past 22 years, a herd of over 300 wood bison has been growing and thriving on over 450 hectares of reclaimed grassland.
When was the ranch established?
- In 1993, talk of reclaiming some of the land utilized by Syncrude’s past mining operations evolved into the idea of introducing large mammals to test the land’s sustainability.
- Both cattle and elk were considered before it was suggested that Syncrude reintroduce an animal that had once roamed Alberta’s boreal forest - the wood bison.
- A total of six mature cows, 15 male calves and nine female calves arrived at Syncrude on February 16th, 1993, relocated from Elk Island National Park near Edmonton.
Where is the ranch?
- The Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch is located about 50 kilometers north of Fort McMurray and is part of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Why is the ranch important?
- The bison is a symbol of strength and has significant cultural importance to First Nation and Metis communities – where the animal provided food, shelter and tools for thousands of years.
- When settlers from Europe came in search of land, bison populations were depleted in massive numbers.
- Nursing the bison population back to health symbolizes an important part of rekindling First Nations culture in Canada.
- With the bison returned to their ancestral land, the relationship between Syncrude and the Fort McKay First Nation has strengthened.
- The ranch also proved that the reclaimed land was sustainable, capable of supporting the same plants and animals that existed long before anyone began extracting Alberta's oil.
Who is involved with the ranch?
- For over 20 years, Brad Ramstead, who is the ranch manager and a senior reclamation scientist - oversees the ranch on behalf of the reclamation support services.
- Ramstead began doing reclamation work for Syncrude in 1991.
- In 1993, Ramstead was part of the team that helped create the ranch.
- The ranch also offers employment opportunities for nearby residents, including the construction and maintenance of fences surrounding the bison’s spacious pasture.
How is the ranch doing presently?
- The wood bison on the ranch regularly earn livestock awards and accolades from across the country.
- The herd is valued because of its disease-free status and excellent health.
- The bison are so healthy that the Calgary Zoo is interested in storing their genetic material, since Syncrude keeps detailed records of pedigree. The herd is an important part of the genetic preservation effort of the wood buffalo species.
- The ranch will continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for years to come - nurturing the growth and development of this once threatened species.
Milestone Reached - Fort McKay Strategic Services
Bison Ranch Environment achieves 10 years without a Recordable Injury
Fort McKay Group of Companies LP have accomplished a milestone that in reality one thinks is impossible to obtain but we have now set the mark!!!
The Environment division reached the 3,650 Day mark, which is 10 Years without a recordable injury
As of May 4th 2014
This has been a concerted effort by all the Fort McKay Group of Companies LP Ranch staff and subcontractors. We would like to recognize a few people that had a huge impact on the success of this monumental field achievement.
- Fort McKay Group of Companies LP Environment Division: Brad Ramstead, Adam King, Tanya Solomone, Shane Baptiste, Chris Erdbecker, Harvey Rolland and Stephanie Gale
- Global Fabrication Inc.: Ben Sych, Neil Kinderwater and their crews.
- Northwind Land Resources: Robbie Price and their field crews.
- Syncrude leaders: Peter Read, Jack (Torchy) Peden, Bruce Friesen, Steve Gaudet, Lorne Shearing, Gerald Pratt, Darryl Ramsaran, Norm Doyle, and Fred Holesworth
- T&LD: Corey Winter, Toni Rubinich, Doreen Best and Eleanor Piercy
The type of work we do on a daily basis is proof in itself that we have reached a level that we want to remain at. From the agricultural flavor of the work we do: fencing, feeding, animal handling, soil testing, and equipment operation to the high degree of hand injury potential: egressing equipment during all seasons, direct exposure handling bison, working in extreme weather and remote locations; we expose ourselves to an enormous amount of hazards that we have controlled.
Thank you to everyone for taking the extra time and going that extra mile over the last ten years.