Small Land Acquisition in BC Will Pay Big for Bighorn Sheep
WHAT: During winter 2021-2022, WSF and WSF Midwest Chapter provided much-needed funding assistance ($15,000 and $5,000, respectively) to the Nature Trust of British Columbia to acquire and protect a critically important 81-acre (33 ha) parcel of land in southern BC. This “in-fill” parcel is surrounded by a very large conservation complex, bounded by a 370-acre conservation property owned by NTBC, and adjacent to the 16,000-acre (6,491 ha) McTaggart-Cowan/nsek’Iniw’t Wildlife Management Area. This parcel provides crucial year-round habitat for bighorn sheep, which are “Blue-Listed” (i.e., a species of special concern) in the province.
WHERE: on the east side of Skaha Lake, S of Penticton, BC, in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
WHY: Human footprint and rural residential development in the Okanagan Region have reduced bighorn sheep habitats; in particular, viticulture (growing grapes for wine-making) has altered BHS habitat in this region, along with 2ndhomes, subdivisions, and cabin sites. In addition to essential BHS habitat, this parcel provides sensitive habitat for four species under Schedule 1 of the Species At Risk Act (SARA), including pallid bat, American badger, Lewis’s woodpecker, and western screech owl. Also, several federally listed at-risk reptiles occur on/near this parcel, including the endangered desert nightsnake, and the threatened western rattlesnake and gopher snake.
WHEN: this acquisition was finalized in December 2021/January 2022
HOW: NTBC worked closely with the conservation-minded previous landowner on fee-title acquisition; now acquired by NTBC, this parcel will be managed for conservation purposes in perpetuity and will be managed to minimize human disturbance of essential wildlife habitats. This parcel will be open to non-mechanized recreation, including hunting.