Crowdfunding campaign aims to conserve 66.9 hectares within the Columbia River Valley

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When surrounded by such beautiful landscapes, waters, wetlands, and wildlife it is imperative that we nurture our nature. The Nature Trust of British Columbia a leading non-profit land conservation organization since 1971 was given the opportunity to purchase and conserve 66.9 hectares of crucial habitat in the Columbia River Valley on Oct. 5.

“We knew that this was a wonderful opportunity to protect endangered and at-risk species, as well as the land itself from development,” said Jasper Lament, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Nature Trust. “The wetlands provide us with incredible benefits; not only will the conservation of this area protect wildlife habitat, but it also helps us directly fight climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Nature Trust started a crowdfunding campaign on Nov. 4 to assist with raising the remaining $70,000 needed to protect this ecologically vital land known as Columbia Lake North – Wetlands, located near the north end of Columbia Lake close to the headwaters of the Columbia River.  This conservation area is at north end of the Fairmont Hot Springs community within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation and the Secwépemc (Shuswap Band Kenpesq’t). Learn how you can become involved at Nature Trust of BC or visit here to make a donation to this great cause.

“While we have been working to drive this project forward for a while and have some donors already the crowdfunding campaign aims to help us secure the remaining funds,” said Lament. “Our success depends on those who share a passion for biodiversity in BC. Every donation is one step closer to purchasing the Columbia Lake North-Wetlands property and conserving it for generations to come. The area is in a bio geoclimatic zone of conservation concern and if we purchase the land, it will protect critical staging areas for waterfowl, habitats for endangered and at-risk species, and the wetlands themselves which provide countless benefits to the Columbia Valley. We are grateful to the donors who have made it possible for The Nature Trust of BC to conserve 498.5 hectares of land this year. We have raised over $1million for the Columbia Lake North-Wetlands so far and need to raise the last $70,000 by November 30 to complete this fundraising campaign. We are committed to doing all we can to protect this ecologically critical area; we rely on the generosity of sustainably minded donors to help us keep protecting ecologically important areas like the Columbia Lake North-Wetlands.”

Just 1.3 km southeast of the Hoodoos, the Columbia Lake North – Wetlands are not only a hotspot of biodiversity but a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) – one of only 37 sites in all of Canada and 3 in BC. Lament shares Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing food and habitat for all types of wildlife.  Nearly 10,000 acres and home to 260 recorded bird species, as well as several fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and countless invertebrates. Species such as the Blue-listed Great Blue Heron, Red-listed American Badger, the Barn Swallow, Common Nighthawk, Red-listed California Gull, and the Western Painted Turtle; all considered endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Nature Trust is expanding protection of wetlands in the Columbia River Valley. Conserving this property protects pocket old-growth forest, largely undisturbed Wetland, and rare riparian ecosystems which include open water, marsh, and swamp wetlands as well as willow-dominated riparian communities. This Wetland also contains provincially identified Ungulate Winter Range (UWR), habitat that is necessary to meet the winter habitat requirements of many ungulate species that live along the Columbia River and throughout our valley such as Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, and White-tailed Deer. It has also become an important movement corridor for Grizzly Bear, Badgers, Wolverines, Mountain Goat, and Elk.

“Going forward some of our first steps will involve collecting data on the property’s ecological attributes such as mapping the vegetation and conducting wildlife surveys. This data, as well as information collected on the use of the property by humans will contribute to the development of a Management Direction Statement,” said Lament. “The Management Direction Statement will establish the management planning objectives and goals for the property and guide our land management activities over future years.”