The Nature Conservancy of Canada added 126 hectares to a land reserve near Osoyoos.

WATCH: Nature Conservancy of Canada adds 126 hectares to Osoyoos land reserve

The land is open to the public and provides habitat for 62 at-risk plants and animals

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced the addition of 126 hectares (311 acres) to the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area near Osoyoos.

Located less than 30 minutes west of Osoyoos, along the Canada/U.S. border, Sage and Sparrow now encompasses more than 1,500 hectares (3,750 acres) of rare grasslands and interior Douglas-fir forest at the confluence of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. This area is within the traditional territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples.

The new addition extends the conservation area to the north, filling in a gap in a north-south conservation corridor in one of the country’s rarest and most threatened ecosystems.

Sage and Sparrow provides essential habitat for 62 confirmed at-risk plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in Canada.

Several species are listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, including western tiger salamander, southern mountain population (endangered), western rattlesnake (threatened), Great Basin gophersnake (threatened), Great Basin spadefoot (threatened) and Lewis’s woodpecker (threatened).

READ MORE: Saving the endangered burrowing owl in Oliver

“The work we are doing in this imperilled landscape is critical for the plants, animals and ecosystems here, not only in the face of climate change, but in the face of ongoing development pressure,” said Barb Pryce, Southern Interior program director, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The land includes some of the oldest stands of interior Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine forest in the broader area. Two large wetlands provide precious moisture in this arid landscape.

The Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area is open to the public for walk-in access only.

This project has been made possible by the contributions of many funders, including the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sitka Foundation, Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, Oliver Osoyoos Naturalists Club, South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and others.

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