Southeast Region - Purple Springs

Last review/updated: January 14, 2008

Purple Springs Provincial Grazing Reserve, located 0.8 km east of the village of Purple Springs, was the first irrigated reserve in Alberta. It was established in 1957, through the joint efforts of two provincial government departments, Agriculture, and Lands and Forests. The goal was to help establish viable farms in the area.

The reserve is located in the dry mixedgrass subregion of the grassland natural region and covers 6,684 acres of level to gently rolling land. There are about 1,100 acres of flood irrigation located in two pastures. One is at Grassy Lake, and the other is at Purple Springs. The St. Mary River Irrigation District and the Taber Irrigation District service these pastures. The remaining 5,584 acres consists of 2,000 acres developed tame pastures and 3,584 acres of native grasslands.

On April 1, 1998, The Purple Springs Grazing Association negotiated a renewable management agreement with the government to assume all aspects of livestock management on the reserve. The management agreement requires the association to maintain the fences, dugouts, corral sites and buildings at the headquarters. Although the reserve is quite small in area, it requires two corral systems because the reserve has two separate parcels, divided by the CPR tracks and Highway No. 3. This makes it impractical to move animals from one parcel to the other.

In 2004, the grazing association began a project to upgrade the flood irrigated fields by replacing open ditches with 1.5 miles of gated pipe.

In a normal year, the reserve can graze 1,300 head of livestock for a five month period from mid-May to mid-October. Red Angus and Charolais breeds are run on the reserve. In 2005 the association started to provide the bulls for the breeding programs.

Fall and winter months provide recreational opportunities for pheasant hunting, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Access routes have been provided for those wishing to visit the reserve.

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