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…..Calgary’s – 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 enquiries 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
Badgers are carnivorous mammals that live in the grasslands and dry forests of the interior of British Columbia. Even though we live with badgers, not many people are fortunate enough to see one because badgers generally move around at night and are secretive by nature.
Badgers are endangered in British Columbia and it is believed that probably less than 350 badgers live here now. The grasslands and dry forests of the Thompson, Okanagan, Boundary, Nicola, Cariboo, and East Kootenay regions are home to most of the remaining badgers in BC.
Habitat loss, through housing developments and intensive agriculture, and deaths caused by road mortality, shooting, and poisoning are contributors to the decline of badger populations in BC.
Armed with garbage bags, shovels, gloves and a backhoe, volunteers last weekend removed everything from appliances and bedsprings to glass and tiles from a grassland near Grand Forks which was purchased earlier this year by the Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT).
The cleanup improves habitat for a herd of 200-300 California bighorn sheep, as well as spring and winter range for mule and white-tailed deer who rely on the open, rolling grassland dotted with aspen groves and black hawthorn. It is also habitat for several species-at-risk, including snakes, spadefoot toad, tiger salamander and badger.
The volunteers were members of the Mehmal and Brandow families, the Grand Forks Wildlife Association, the Wild Sheep Society of BC., SILT and other local residents.
Formerly part of the Mehmal Ranch at the end of Morrissey Creek Road, D.L. 492 is 109 hectares (270 acres) of excellent habitat for wildlife, notes Judie Steeves, president of SILT.
Information signs were also posted identifying it as private property now conserved for wildlife. The public is welcome to walk the property at their own risk, take photos and enjoy the natural beauty, but barriers and signs have been installed to inform people that motorized use is prohibited.
The property has a history of damage from abuse by riders trespassing on their ATVs and motorbikes and from illegal dumping, says Steeves. We ask the community to respect that this is actually privately-owned land purchased with donations from a variety of sources to conserve its natural features for wildlife.
SILT is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit charity that works to acquire gems and jewels of wildlife habitat that also act as “stepping-stones” for animal movement. The grasslands surrounding Grand Forks are ecologically significant and host nationally-important and highly-diverse wildlife species.
Acquiring D.L. 492 was made possible by the generosity of the family of the late Walter Mehmal; the B.C. Conservation Foundation; the Brandow family, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. and its members; the Grand Forks Wildlife Association and other donors, said Steeves.
SILT is currently working to acquire Lot A, D.L. 493, 35-hectares (86 acres) of wildlife habitat that lies adjacent to D.L. 492.
You can help to purchase Lot A and learn more about SILT at: www.siltrust.ca. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of cash, land, and bequests
As one of the sponsors of the John B. Holdstock Scholarship, the Southern Interior Land Trust is pleased to announce that Katie Zinn is the 2020 recipient, chosen from a field of six this summer by a group of judges representing a variety of organizations.
Zinn is a fly fisher who has recently completed her thesis on the effects of reduced streamflow on hypoxia and habitat use of threatened Salish Sucker and juvenile Coho salmon.
She begins her PhD this fall at the University of B.C. in the department of zoology and is studying the effects of recreational catch and release on Chinook salmon.
She grew up spending summers on the Sunshine Coast exploring the intertidal zone and poking anemones and fishing off the dock.
Her undergrad degree is in Natural Resource Conservation with a specialty in Science and Management.
She has volunteered in the Pacific Salmon and Ecology and Conservation Laboratory, and she has also worked fighting wildfires out of Cranbrook.
It was an amazing experience to work in the East Kootenays, and it forced me to open my eyes to the freshwater world after growing up on the coast. Shortly after I got to Cranbrook, I was introduced to fly fishing. It’s easy to learn to fly fish when you are surrounded by world-class dry fly rivers. I fell in love with the sport and have been chasing fish with my fly rod ever since, she commented.
John Holdstock was a founding director of the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Society in 1988 (now the SILT) until his sudden death in 2010. He was also a past-president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and involved in a number of other outdoors organizations.
The signature on his e-mails was always:
The world is run by those who show up.
The annual scholarship is coordinated by the B.C. Conservation Foundation. Go to: bccf.com for more information.