Purchases were also finalized for wetland areas on both Saturna Island, and Meteor Lake

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

One of most of the most crucial ecosystems on earth are wetlands. They habitat countless species of wildlife, filter pollution, while storing carbon and provide flood protection. They are also one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, and approximately 70 per cent of wetlands across southern areas of Canada have been lost. The Nature Trust of BC purchased nearly one square kilometre (km) (165 acres) of wetland past Fairmont, British Columbia (B.C.) near the headwaters of the Columbia River on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc, and Ktunaxa Peoples, and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples of B.C. The Nature Trust of BC launched their fundraising campaign for $70,000 in donations to make this purchase possible, with their deadline being December 31. They were looking for that Christmas spirit of the community to ensure areas of wetland would be conserved and protected, and they got it. 

Through this same deadline, and generous contributions, they were also able to purchase nearly three square kilometres (km) (581 acres) of wetland on Meteor Lake, a bog wetland located within the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. The Nature Trust of BC was also able to buy 0.32 square kilometres (kms) (78 acres) of undeveloped land on Saturna Island at Mount Fisher Bluffs in one of the most at-risk bio geoclimatic zones in the province.  Through the generosity of their crowd funding campaign, the closing of the purchase of the wetlands of Saturna Island came first on February 22, followed by the Columbia Lake North Wetlands on March 6, and finally Meteor Lake, on March 20. For more information on The Nature Trust of BC visit their website.

“We are incredibly grateful to be able to protect these crucial wetlands from purchase and development in perpetuity,” said Dr. Jasper Lament, chief executive officer (CEO) of The Nature Trust of BC. “We had received a generous donation from Teck Resources Limited (Teck) and their support allowed us to pull the purchase of Columbia Lake North Wetlands over the line. Conservation is key to keep these beautiful habitats in B.C. thriving. We are in awe of Teck’s generosity and that of the Columbia Valley community.”

Lament said the conservation of each property creates a ripple effect that increases connectivity and benefits adjacent areas. From the forests and carbon-absorbing wetlands of Columbia Lake to the coastal douglas-fir (CDFmm) biogeoclimatic subzone on Saturna Island, each property provides a host of services to our environment and the species within them. Columbia Lake North – Wetlands hosts several species of waterfowl, such as the common goldeneye, trumpeter Swan, and American wigeon.  The wetlands at Meteor Lake are breeding grounds for grizzly bears and moose, while those on Saturna Island are home to at-risk and threatened plant and animal species such as the barn swallow, great blue heron, and the slender popcornflower. The Nature Trust of BC is beyond grateful for the support they received for making the purchase of these other two properties a reality.

Mt. Fisher Bluffs, Saturna Island, British Columbia, Canada Submitted photo.

Meteor Lake-Submitted photo

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported the purchase Saturna Island,” said Lament. “This project was made possible by the Government of Canada through the natural heritage conservation program which is part of Canada’s Nature Fund. We also want to extend a special thank you to Val and Dick Bradshaw, Paul and Mona Sinclair, and to the Gulf Island community, whose extraordinary generosity contributed to this conservation project.”

About the purchase of the wetlands at Meteor Lake, near Prince George, B.C., Lament said, “We are deeply grateful for the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the ministry of water, land and resource stewardship. This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal department of environment and climate change, nature smart climate solutions fund. This project was also made possible by the Government of Canada through the natural heritage conservation program, part of Canada’s nature fund. We are also blown away by the generosity of the Prince George community who played a huge role in protecting this property.” 

Lament said on all three of their newly-purchased conservation areas, they will work over the next year to do detailed assessments of the ecological value of these properties and develop management plans to preserve these ecosystems into the future.

“Now that these conservation areas are purchased, they will never be developed or sold,” said Lament. “This allows them to flourish and provides sanctuary for the many plant and animal species within them. We dedicate time re-naturalizing these properties, and to preserving these wild spaces. Conservation gives these critical habitats a chance to heal from any damage from human activity, ensuring that they thrive for generations to come.”