The Ministik, Joseph and Oliver lakes site is located 20 km southeast of Edmonton, and 3 km northeast of the hamlet of New Sarepta. A number of small to medium sized lakes are also included in the site. Ministik Lake is a saline lake with alkaline shorelines, emergent vegetation, wet meadows, and shallow marshes. A diversity of upland habitats, including significant portions of undisturbed remnant dry mixed wood habitat, is contained in the area. The majority of the topography is knob and kettle and exhibits an excellent interspersion of lakes, ponds, wetlands and upland forest. It is surrounded by heavy agricultural use, so is an island of almost untouched landscape. Moose and White-tailed Deer use the key habitat surrounding the lakes.
This sites irregular shorelines, shallow marshes, islands and exposed mudflats create excellent habitat for dabbling ducks. Accordingly, these lakes have recorded globally significant numbers of waterfowl in late summer, when a peak of 51,000 birds were surveyed (a minimum of 5,000 ducks regularly occur on Ministik Lake). Waterfowl also breed in large numbers, and stage here in spring and fall migration. Additionally, the whole area is an important spring and fall staging site for Tundra Swans.
Joseph Lake hosts a number of colonial nesting birds, with a 1998 survey documenting 480 American White Pelicans nests (or just under 1% of the national population), California Gulls (1,500 nests), and Double-crested Cormorants (390 nests).
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
This site has a number of factors that could potentially affect it, or are threatening it already. The entire area overlies the Joarcam oil field, and is mostly occupied by PNG (Petroleum and Natural Gas) leases. There are 18 to 20 wellsites already existing within the site. Most of the oil and gas activity is in the southwest corner, adjacent to Joseph Lake. There is also a high level of recreation use, particularly of off-road vehicles. Extensive livestock grazing is a potential problem, while artificial manipulation of water levels is generally a benefit; Ducks Unlimited has been controlling water levels here since 1938. Finally, in 1998, approximately one hundred dead Ring-billed Gulls were collected from Joseph Lake after a probable outbreak of avian botulism.
Ministik Lake (along with Miquelon Lake, IBA AB071) was designated as the first Provincial Game Bird Sanctuary in 1911. A wildlife management plan for the this sanctuary was created in 1989 to set principles for managing the site for waterfowl, partially by putting restrictions and controls on incompatible uses.