The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) annoucned March 27 the acquisition of a 1,836-acre (743-hectare) property in the South Okanagan Similkameen. More than 30 species at risk are found on these lands, which are seen as a critical acquisition to conserve B.C.’s vanishing native grasslands.
The $4.4 million initiative garnered a wide range of support, including the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, eminent biologists, foundations, local naturalists’ clubs and hundreds of individuals.
Located south-west of Osoyoos, South Block has been of interest to the conservation community for over 30 years. The land sits in the middle of a migratory corridor for species moving between the desert areas of the western United States and the dry grassland interior of British Columbia.
The property is connected to two other parcels purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2012. Collectively these lands are known as the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area. Now spanning more than 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares), this conservation area is a world class refuge for many rare and endangered grassland species.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program is a $245 million investment to assist non-profit, non-government organizations to secure ecologically sensitive lands to ensure the conservation of our diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and habitat. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been entrusted to lead the program and has committed to raising matching funds for each federal dollar received.
In addition to the federal government, major funding for this project came from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, The Sitka Foundation, Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund, The James A. and Donna-Mae Moore Foundation, BC Conservation Foundation, South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, Oliver-Osoyoos Naturalists Club, Burrowing Owl Winery, Thomas T. Forbes Estate and many individuals.