Nature Conservancy acquires swath of Columbia Valley wetlands for protection
Conservation group says wetlands important for kokanee, birds and 70 at-risk animal species
The Nature Conservancy of Canada announced on Thursday a new 134-hectare wetland conservation project in the Columbia Valley which they say will protect some of the area's most important kokanee spawning locations.
The new conservation area, Luxor Linkage, is in the Columbia Wetlands, approximately 17 kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs. The acquisition raises the total amount of land protected by the organization in the wetlands to 389 hectares.
"This ... now goes from the valley bottom, the wetlands, and up the slope of the mountain and provides a whole bunch of different habitats," the Conservancy's Chad Townsend told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.
"That connectivity is something we strive for in our purchases and this is a critical conservation corridor for a whole lot of reasons."
The Nature Conservancy says the wider Columbia River wetlands are important as a stopover and breeding area for waterfowl and other birds. They are also home to over 70 at-risk species like the American badger, grizzly bear and species of endangered plants.
It says the project will protect a movement corridor for large animals travelling between the Purcell and Rocky mountains.
"Grizzly bears, throughout the year, need all sorts of different things, for instance," Townsend said. "Getting down to the wetlands and getting back up the mountains and being able to do that without being impeded by subdivisions or other industrial disturbances really is what they need for their lifecycle."
The Nature Conservancy says the new protected area will be accessible to some non-motorized recreation like hiking.
The conservancy says the land was at risk of having subdivisions built on it and being used for "high impact" recreation. Now that they're protected, it says those uses will be forbidden.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West
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