129 hectares of grassland and open forest in the Columbia Valley will be set aside for conservation efforts.
Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) officials said this is partially thanks to Kelowna-based real estate broker Drew Gamble.
“This property was a very large parcel of undeveloped rural land that my client and I knew would require a unique purchaser. It turned out the Nature Conservancy of Canada had already identified portions of the property as endangered species habitat, so it was a perfect target for them to acquire,” said Gamble. “My client had left the property undeveloped wanting to respect Mother Nature. She couldn’t be happier that the Nature Conservancy of Canada will continue her goal of stewarding the land for generations to come.”
The property is located between Canal Flats and Skookumchuck and features the endangered American badger’s preferred habitat.
It also holds deciduous woodlands, small wetlands and a section of lakeshore along Larsen Lake.
“We were delighted Mr. Gamble contacted us about this land,” said Richard Klafki, NCC’s Canadian Rockies program director. “He and his client could see that the highest and best use of this land was not development but was conservation, and we wholeheartedly agreed.”
The area is also frequented by several other animals.
“Local ungulates — moose, elk and mule and white-tailed deer — are a common sight in this area through the winter,” said NCC officials. “Migratory waterfowl, fish, amphibians and small mammals use the wetlands for feeding, breeding and shelter. Much of the shrubland and forest contains quaking aspen and black cottonwood, creating substantial songbird habitat and ungulate winter range. The open water wetlands and riparian areas support foraging habitat for a variety of bat species.”
“Our government supports the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work to secure this grassland and forest property as a new conservation area in BC’s East Kootenays through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Ecosystems such as these native grasslands, deciduous forests and wetlands act not only as important stores of carbon, but also provide habitat for species at risk and nature at large. By making investments such as this, we are making progress toward Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate change objectives and benefitting biodiversity.”
NCC officials said the land will be managed as part of the organization’s Kootenay River Ranch Conservation Area.
This grows the conservation space to 1,644 hectares and is open to the public for walking.
“In the Rocky Mountain Trench, grasslands support important habitat and forage for birds, reptiles, small mammals, ungulates and domestic livestock,” said NCC officials.
“This project was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada, through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund. A very generous contribution was made to the acquisition of this land by Margaret L. Smith, in memory of Kenneth J. Smith,” said NCC officials.