Twelve hundred acres of endangered South Okanagan grassland protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and its partners have secured two sprawling grassland properties near Osoyoos in BC’s South Okanagan Valley.
The Sage and Sparrow Conservation Project features two distinct properties: Sagebrush Slopes and Sparrow Grasslands. Located on the Canada-U.S. border, these properties are part of an international swath of rare grassland habitat. Both are crucial components of a migratory corridor for species moving between the desert areas of the western United States and the dry grasslands of interior B.C.
Sagebrush Slopes is named for the fragrant bush that dominates the property and is one of the most extensive sagebrush landscapes in B.C. Pockets of trembling aspen woodlands provide habitat for mule deer, ruffed grouse, magpies and a variety of cavity-nesting creatures. Two mouse species of conservation concern – the western harvest mouse and Great Basin pocket mouse – thrive here.
Sparrow Grasslands is notable for the abundance of bird species – including at least seven species of sparrow – that frequent the area. The rolling hills of the property are covered in grasses and wildflowers, offering a significant contrast to Sagebrush Slopes. A canyon cuts through the southern portion of the property and features a natural spring that runs year-round.
Both properties share a significant portion of their borders with the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, forming an integral habitat link between protected areas that allow for the movement of species between the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys.
Support for the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Project has come from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Sitka Foundation, Dr. Sally Otto, Jean and Ken Finch, Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, South Okanagan Naturalist Club, Oliver Osoyoos Naturalist Club and other individuals.