Douglas Fir forests, wetlands and a winding river are just part of B.C.’s newest conservation area, which will conserve a wildlife corridor grizzly bears use to meet and mingle.
The 274-acre property was acquired by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, a partnership between the province, BC Hydro, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and public stakeholders to conserve species in watersheds impacted by existing BC Hydro dams.
The Gates Creek lands, located nearly 43 kilometres northwest of Pemberton, were recently transferred to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
“There’s been a lot of business or agriculture development in the valley environments between Pemberton and Lillooet,” said program director Steven Godfrey.
Industrial development – if it fragments land between grizzly populations – threatens the species’ survival. Without connectivity, bears grow less diverse genetically and their risk of being poached or hit by a vehicle increase.
The now-protected area will provide bears a path for travel between the Stein-Nahatlatch and South Chilcotin bears.
Besides grizzlies, the area is also the habitat of 13 other at-risk species including the olive-sided flycatcher, monarch, western toad and wolverine.
The land also is ripe with freshwater resources critical for plants, amphibians and fish such as salmon, trout, Dolly Varden and mountain whitefish.
The conservancy is devising a management plan for the Fraser West Natural Area. Located within the territory of the St’at’imc people, the nonprofit plans to collaborate with the community about potential land uses.
“Conserving more nature is an important part of our plan to address the crisis of biodiversity loss,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
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