B.C. ranchers protect 4,500 hectares of land from development

A southeastern British Columbia ranch 11 times the size of Stanley Park has been protected from development by its owners.

Land is 11 times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park

A southeastern B.C. couple has partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect a large parcel of their ranchlands in the Columbia Valley near Invermere. (Nature Conservancy of Canada)

A southeastern British Columbia ranch 11 times the size of Stanley Park has been protected from development by its

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says Bob and Barb Shaunessy have registered a covenant on their 4,500-hectare ranch located on the west side of Windermere Lake near Invermere, B.C.

Conservancy spokeswoman Lesley Neilson says the covenant is registered with the land-title office and prevents the ranch from being subdivided and developed for residential or vacation homes if its sold.

Neilson says the ranch, which has operated since 1898, is connected to other conservation and Crown lands and acts as a corridor for animals such as grizzly bear, elk and the deer.

The Shaunessys have long-welcomed non-motorized use of their property and are working with the regional district to create a legacy trail that would cross the land and connect Invermere and Fairmont hot springs.

The conservancy has protected more than 1.1-million hectares of land Canada-wide since 1962 and about a quarter of that is found in B.C.

"That use, the cattle grazing there done in a sustainable way, is completely compatible with our ecological conservation goals in protecting the open spaces so those big animals like the grizzly bear and elk and the deer can move through," says Neilson.

"The biggest value from it, from sort of the ecology-conservation point of view, is maintaining that movement corridor for these wide-ranging animals."