The Nature Trust of British Columbia has secured some historical landmarks throughout the Similkameen Valley for conservation thanks to the help of many donors.
Over 194 hectares of historical and ecologically important land, including the Keremeos Columns formation which is adjacent to the 20-hectare Keremeos Columns Provincial Park, has increased the size of protected land by almost ten-fold and connected seven crucial and sensitive ecosystems.
The Keremeos Columns Grassland conservation area is located in the Similkameen Valley within the traditional territory of the Smelqmix and Syilx People.
The ecosystems include grasslands, sagebrush steppe, riparian, open coniferous woodland, mature forest, old forest and sparsely vegetated rocky outcrops.
In the area sits one of the most rare types of ecosystems in BC, which supports high concentrations of species at risk. Nature’s Trust said that protecting low elevation grasslands is a conservation priority.
The habitat includes a variety of at-risk species who are sensitive to habitat fragmentation and rely on contiguous low elevation grassland, shrub-steppe, and rocky outcrop ecosystems found in the Similkameen Valley.
Additionally, this conservation area will support the habitat needs of the Lark Sparrow, which was once common in BC, but is now primarily found in undisturbed shrub-steppe grasslands of the South Okanagan and Similkameen.
“We were blown away by the community support we received to purchase this property. Preserving connectivity among biologically diverse parts of the Similkameen Valley landscape is an important step in enabling ecosystems to adapt and persevere through climate change,” said Jasper Lament, Nature Trust CEO.
“The land is not only rich in sensitive ecosystems and at-risk species, but also rich in history. Protecting this property will make the conservation network in the Okanagan and Similkameen much more resilient.”
The Keremeos Columns Grassland conservation area's crowning glory is the vertical hexagonal basalt columns rising above the forest. The unique geological formation was created over 30 million years ago during high volcanic activity
“The funds raised through this campaign will ensure this geological landmark is protected and can be appreciated by generations to come.”
The Keremeos Columns formation is best observed from viewpoints within the Keremeos Columns Provincial Park.
“Access to the conservation area requires movement across several private land holdings. We ask that if you want to view the columns you do so from the provincial park to respect the private property of local land owners, as well as the sensitive species and ecosystems found within the conservation area,” the Nature Trust said.
This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada. This project has also been made possible by MapleCross, Val and Dick Bradshaw, the Kaatza Foundation, and many individual donors.