By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

K2 Ranch owners Bob and Barb Shaunessy have joined with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to establish a conservation covenant on 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) of grasslands of their ranch.

Ever since purchasing the ranch we have been committed to restoring and conserving this land, said Bob Shaunessy in a recent press release. As the oldest working cattle ranch in the Columbia Valley, dating to 1898, the K2 Ranch deserved to be restored to her former glory. We are delighted that our partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada means that this property will remain intact over the long term.

The Shaunessy couple has spent several years restoring the ranchs grasslands (located on the west side of Windermere Lake) to their former glory an effort that has been widely recognized by the Columbia Valley community as a way to prevent ecological threats from developments. However, the partnership between the Shaunessy couple and NCC aims to build an alliance behind a project that will protect animals; while helping the area remain free of developments that have surfaced on the east side of Lake Windermere.

Mr. Shaunessy was unavailable for further comment before The Pioneer went to press.

This conservation project protects high-value lands for elk, badger, grizzlies and other wide-roaming animals that move through the Columbia Valley. These are animals that residents of the area hold near and dear to our hearts, and ensuring they can move safely across and through the valley is so important, Nancy Newhouse, director of conservation and Canadian Rockies program director for the NCC, told The Pioneer.

At more than 11,000 acres, the SLR-K2 Ranch conservation covenant is also now the largest covenant that the NCC holds in British Columbia. We are very grateful to be working with Bob and Barb Shaunessy to realize our shared commitment to creating a conservation legacy on these valley-bottom lands.

This is not the first contribution of land that the K2 Ranch has made or will continue to make.

The Shaunessys have long welcomed non-motorized use of parts of their property, and are currently working with the regional district to establish the Westside Legacy Trail that would cross through some of their land and connect Invermere to Fairmont Hot Springs.

This is one project thats helping us in our goal to reach 1 million acres of conserved land by Earth Day 2020, said Ms. Newhouse.