The Nature Trust of B.C. has purchased a 66.9-hectare piece of land near Fairmont Hot Springs to hold for conservation.
Officials with the Nature Trust said the property known as the Columbia Lake North–Wetlands is, as the name implies, on the north end of Columbia Lake and located within the traditional lands of the Ktunaxa and the Secwépemc Nations.
“The wetlands along the Columbia River within the Columbia Valley are designated as a wetland of International Importance and are one of only 3 sites in BC and 37 in Canada,” said Nature Trust officials. “This conservation area will increase the resiliency of adjacent nearby protected and conserved lands, including the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area, which it directly borders.”
The Trust notes that the conservation area is a particularly dry and cool climate, which will protect a vital staging area for waterfowl and winter range for ungulates, and strengthen a regional wildlife connectivity corridor.
“The Columbia Lake North – Wetlands conservation area is also of continental significance to waterfowl under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and provide habitat and breeding grounds for the American Wigeon, Trumpeter Swan, and Common Goldeneye among other species,” said the Nature Trust.
Birds are not the only species that reside in the area, as the region is a major wildlife corridor for traveling animals.
“The provincially identified ungulate winter range (UWR) is crucial to meeting the winter habitat requirements of ungulate species such as Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, and White-tailed Deer. It also provides an important movement corridor for Grizzly Bear, Elk, Wolverine, and American Badger,” said the Trust.
According to the organization, a number of endangered and at-risk species take refuge in the wetlands as well.
This includes the great blue heron, the American badger, the barn swallow, the common nighthawk, the California gull and the western painted turtle
Wetlands such as this also prove their importance by their ability to regulate and filter water flow and prevent flooding.
“The purchase of this land ensures that the delicate ecosystems and vibrant biodiversity has a chance to thrive,” said Nature Trust officials. “The conservation of land is key to tackling the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change”
The land was purchased thanks to a crowd-funding effort, which was finished off by a significant contribution by Teck.
“Thanks to the generosity of Teck and many other donors, the Columbia Lake North – Wetlands have been conserved and are now protected from purchase and development,” said the Trust.