Located within the dry mixed grass natural subregion of Alberta, the Mattheis Research Ranch is part of a large contiguous tract of rangeland with diverse topography, vegetation and wildlife. The ranch is adjacent to the Red Deer River in the north and encompasses a creek, wetlands, vegetated sand hills, and shrublands.
The Mattheis Ranch was donated to the University of Alberta in 2010 by Edwin and Ruth Mattheis.
The Mattheis Ranch covers approximately 5,000 hectares, about 4,000 ha of which is native grassland, including loamy mixedgrass and sandgrass-dominated prairie, river coulee breaks, and riparian areas. Dominant grass species include needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa comata), Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and sand grass (Calamovilfa longifolia). The plant community also includes several forbs, such as pasture sage (Artemisia frigida) and scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea) and shrubs, including prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), and thorny buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea).
Irrigation-fed wetlands cover approximately 400 ha of the ranch. The water that circulates through these wetlands, most of which were created by Ducks Unlimited Canada in 1952, is delivered to 250 ha of cultivated land that is used to grow winter cattle feed, spring grazing pasture and annual crops. Irrigation water also augments several of the property’s natural wetlands.
Other anthropogenic features on the ranch include high voltage transmission lines, two provincial highways and an extensive network of oil and gas infrastructure.
The Mattheis Ranch is managed as a custom grazing operation. Since being acquired by the University of Alberta in 2011, the ranch has been rotationally stocked with approximately 800 beef cattle for an average of 6 months each year, beginning in early May.
Interested in conducting research here?
Researchers working at the Mattheis Ranch have access to a functional field lab with wireless internet, storage space and ample accommodations.
We are happy to grant access to the property and associated research facilities. Please simply contact us prior to your visit to learn about the conditions of ranch access, and for answers to your questions about conducting research at RRI-affiliated facilities.
Station Manager: Barry Irving
Ranch Foreman: Don Armitage