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Local wildlife loving the Luxor Linkage

Bighorn Sheep on Luxor Linkage -  Bonnie-Lou Ferris
Bighorn Sheep on Luxor Linkage
— image credit: Bonnie-Lou Ferris

Lesley Neilson

A prime wildlife corridor linking the Purcell and Rocky mountains has become more secure for the grizzlies, bighorn sheep and other wide-ranging animals that use it thanks to the creation of a new conservation area located north of Edgewater, BC.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has acquired a 630-acre (255-hectare) private property that once operated as a Christmas tree farm. At the time of purchase, the land was listed for sale and was being advertised as an opportunity for subdivision and motorized recreation.

The new Luxor Linkage Conservation Area forms part of a connectivity corridor for large animals moving through the valley. This area has been a target for conservation and habitat restoration for more than two decades.

"Luxor Linkage is a wonderful conservation project that continues to reveal its natural treasures each time I walk the land," said Nancy Newhouse, British Columbia Director of Conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  "The importance of this for conservation cannot be understated.

"The Nature Conservancy of Canada is so pleased to be able to help wildlife continue to move safely across and through the valley, while also providing beautiful spaces for residents to walk and enjoy the natural wonders of this region."

Independent research biologist Michael Proctor has identified these lands as one of the most important zones between Fairmont and Golden for grizzly bears moving between the Purcell and Rocky mountains.

Luxor Linkage supports an amazing diversity of wildlife including the endangered badger, mountain goats, cougar, wolf, bear and many others. Notably, the conservation area includes prime winter range for bighorn sheep, moose, elk and deer.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada plans to restore the traditional open forest and grassland habitats. Restoration efforts on Luxor Linkage will complement similar work completed by the Province on adjacent lands. Restoration projects will increase the amount of ecologically significant habitat in the area; in particular, restoration efforts will be targeted to improve the winter habitat used by bighorn sheep.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada recognizes the importance of connecting Canadians with nature and providing recreational access on its lands in ways that are compatible with its conservation goals. The sensitive nature of Luxor Linkage and the surrounding area for key local wildlife will mean that recreational access will be limited to non-motorized use.

This project was supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.

"The Luxor Linkage conservation lands support wildlife including the grizzly bear and bighorn sheep. Through the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program, we are pleased to invest in the protection of this important mountain habitat," said the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

"Choosing Luxor Linkage as a priority property for conservation was supported by the Nature Conservancy of Canada's science-based planning framework," said Bob Redgate, BC Region board chair, Nature Conservancy of Canada. "We use the best available conservation science to make rigorous and informed decisions. Protecting key movement corridors for wildlife is a great example of smart, high-impact conservation."

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.8 million acres (over 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. More than one quarter of these acres are in British Columbia. www.natureconservancy.ca/bc

The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $400 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.

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