Tue, 17 Nov 2020

Wildlife habitat for Bighorns Protected

Lot A DL 493 photo provided by SILT

A further 35 hectares (86 acres) of grassland habitat two kilometres east of Grand Forks on Morrissey Creek Road has been purchased for wildlife conservation by the Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT).

Purchase of these open, south-facing bunchgrass slopes with patches of deciduous shrub thickets provide habitat for a number of species, including year-round use by the Gilpin Herd of California bighorn sheep, 200-300 animals, including all ages, for its forage and security habitat.

Funds for the purchase included donations from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, B.C. Conservation Foundation, Tom and Jenifer Foss, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C., Wild Sheep Foundation Alberta, other individual donors, and the Government of Canada through its Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

An adjacent 109 hectares (270 acres) was purchased earlier this year by SILT, with support from the Walter Mehmal Family, and contributions from the B.C. Conservation Foundation, the Brandow Family, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C., the Grand Forks Wildlife Association, and other donors.

SILT is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit charity dedicated to conserving land for all living things.

President Judie Steeves comments, “We’re delighted we’ve been successful in our collaboration with so many different interest groups and individuals to conserve these two properties. Now we need to work with the local community to prevent motorized use of these grasslands, so they are not destroyed for use by wildlife. Otherwise, the public is welcome to hike over and enjoy the scenic wild beauty of this land.

“As well as wild sheep, there are both mule and white-tailed deer; rattlesnake, gophersnake and racer; and birds such as canyon wren which I recently spotted there. An endangered badger was sighted on the property this past August. Both properties have habitat for at least six federally-listed species-at-risk.”

“We are proud to once again be a partner in this project that leaves a conservation legacy that will forever be upon the landscape. Resources like this will ensure that future generations have the opportunity to see untouched wild spaces in perpetuity” – Kyle Stelter, past-president of the Wild Sheep

“Society of B.C.A shout out to the conservation-minded people, the hunters, the non-hunters and the organizations that made all of this possible. SILT and this acquisition are examples of how we can pull together even in these very tough times” – Tom Foss of the Foss Foundation

“The BCCF is pleased to be able to support the SILT acquisition of land for protection of important bighorn sheep and mule deer habitat, as well as other species” – Gerry Paillie of the BCCF Land and Wildlife Committee

SILT owns two other properties in the Grand Forks area, Edwards Pond and at Wards Lake, as well as properties at Keremeos, Cawston, and the R.E. Taylor Conservation Property on Keremeos Creek near Olalla.

SILT welcomes inquiries from people interested in gifting land, or from anyone wishing to donate to help conserve lands containing important natural features. For details, go to the SILT website at: siltrust.ca