Living Standards | Education And Learning
Environment | Conservation
Community Connections | Citizen Engagement

Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area

We are a 4800 acre day-use natural area south-west of Calgary off of Highway 22X, protecting habitat, inspiring youth and demonstrating leadership in conservation.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Sandy Cross, the son of A.E Cross, a well-known Albertan and one of Calgary’s Big Four, lived a humble and unassuming life maintaining his family’s land and raising cattle. It was in 1973 that Ann Abbott captured the heart of this long-time bachelor, and the two were married. In 1987, Ann and Sandy donated 2000 acres of their land to the province to become the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area.

At the time, it was the largest private land donation in Canadian history, and in 1996, another 2800 acres were added. It was the dream of Ann and Sandy, concerned about encroaching urban development, to ensure that their land would be protected. For 30 years, the ASCCA has been striving to be a leader and an example in land conservation and sustainability, to inspire and engage people of all ages to reflect on the importance of preserving our remaining natural habitats so that they can remain refuges for wildlife and be appreciated by future generations long after we are gone.

“As the CEO of the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) I wanted to tell you about my favorite part of the day, it is when the students flood back into the building after spending the day interacting with nature, just before they get back on the school bus. In the few minutes that I speak with them I see how they’ve been impacted by their time here. Their grins are from ear to ear and I can hardly hear as each child it trying to tell me what they learned that day. And every day I am reminded how important it is to teach our youth the importance of being outside and engaging with our environment. We provide funding for students from schools that require financial aid, and several are new Canadians, refugees or from low-income families who have not had opportunity to experience the unique natural setting of the Conservation Area. These students develop a deeper understanding of nature from which a conservation ethic may evolve. For many students’ their time at the ASCCA begins to instill in them an appreciation and enjoyment of the outdoors.”

– Greg Shyba, Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area CEO

Our Impact

What We Do

We are striving to continue the Sandy Cross’ legacy, and have made it our mission to be an example in conservation, by providing important space for wildlife, offering conservation education programs and supporting community conservation initiatives. We aspire to a day when the Conservation Area is recognized from the local to the international level as a model of sustainability, a leader in landscape-level approaches to management of protected areas and a key contributor to collaborative approaches in conservation.

The ASCCA showcases Alberta’s beautiful natural diversity with rolling foothills and a mixture of grasslands and aspen forests. We are unique in the way that we focus on a sustainable relationship with the land. Simply more than a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers, it is a place for humans and nature to connect. It is home to over 400 plant species and an abundance of wildlife, and is also the first nocturnal preserve in Canada. We have welcomed thousands of youth and adults since our education program began in 1993, and we are excited to continue delivering important and engaging programming for years to come.


In the last year, we have:

  • planted well over 100,000 trees through the wonderful efforts of the Junior Forest Wardens and through our partnership with the Carbon Farmer;
  • taken steps to restore and protect the ASCCA, please take a look at our 25 Year Adaptive Management Plan which can be found here;
  • begun to work on our stream monitoring program last summer; stream monitoring is one of the tools we use to determine how well we’re protecting the conservation area;
  • engaged over 4300 students this year that landed on our doorstep as well as in their own schoolyards; and
  • an education highlight was a weeklong Campus Calgary program with students who were new immigrants to Canada from over ten different countries. The teacher and students were both inspired and inspiring.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Conservation is more important than ever, due to the human impact on animal habitats. Natural areas like the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area are important refuges for thousands of species of flora and fauna. As stewards of this land, we are responsible for maintaining and protecting the habitat. Donations and fundraising ensure that we can continue to protect this land for future generations and the diverse species that call us home.

  • Since 2014 we have partnered with The Carbon Farmer towards our ambitious project of planting over 1 million trees, shrubs and native grasses on select portions of the 4800 acre conservation area. We have planted over 100,000 trees in working towards this goal. Although protected from human development, much of the conservation area was once used for agriculture, and native vegetation was removed. We are now seeking to use collaborative approaches to return the ASCCA to nature.

Our environmental educators carry on Sandy Cross’ passion for the land and wildlife, educating youth and adults about the integral connection we have to nature. People enjoy the ASCCA with over 20 kilometers of scenic nature trails and self-guided interpretive walks, and since 1993 over 110,000 youth and adults have participated in hands-on, conservation based learning opportunities, from our award-winning education programs. We offer year-round community conservation learning events that aim to both educate and inspire.

With innovative and immersive education programs ASCCA takes children out of the classroom and into the outdoors, exposing them to conservation and stewardship. During the student’s time at the ASCCA educational programs are delivered in a natural setting that promotes social awareness of environmental issues and provides first hand nature experiences. This program creates an inquiry driven environment that enhances critical-thinking, literacy, and problem-solving skills; as well as facilitating a deeper understanding of community, responsibility, cultural awareness, and stewardship. The ASCCA instills in these students a passion for the environment and the world around them. They begin to understand that they are just one piece in our eco-system and the importance of nature.

“I cannot express my gratitude enough for that extraordinary experience to learn about Aboriginals, the land, the animals, and how the environment works together. This hands-on experience has enriched my understanding of nature, ecosystem, and conservation and it has surely impacted my classmates as well.” – Grade 7 student

Our Requests

What You Can Do

A donation to the ASCCA is a donation that will enhance the future. Each donation makes a tremendous difference in keeping the Cross legacy alive, showcasing how each individual is capable of making a difference. If you have the means to give and support the ASCCA’s education and conservation programs, please consider one of the following options:

1. Donate online. To make an online donation, please visit our Canada Helps page. We are also able to process Visa and Mastercard donations if you call our office line at 403-931-1042We can also arrange for once per month and annual donations.

2. Mail. Cheque and cash donations can be sent by mail, addressed to the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area. Our new mailing address is:

  • 20-194001 160 Street West, Foothills AB T1S 4K9.

3. Volunteer. Volunteering with us is a fascinating and enriching experience that not only allows you to reap the benefits of being out in nature, but also connects you with a community of passionate and like-minded individuals excited to share their knowledge with you. On several unique projects, from stewarding the land, to helping with habitat management, dedicated volunteers have donated countless hours to the ASCCA.

In 2016 our volunteers donated over 4,000 combined volunteer hours!

  • Contact us at [email protected] or 403-931-1042 to be a part of something truly special.
  • I am really passionate about conservation and I believe in educating and inspiring others to love conservation” – ASCCA Volunteer

4. Sponsor. If your organization is interested in supporting the ASCCA through partnering or sponsorship, please contact us at [email protected] or 403-931-1042.


Anna Aldridge

Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area


Charitable Number: 898776331RR0001

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