Southern Interior Land Trust ensured that bighorn sheep and other wildlife will have an extra 86 acres of land for wildlife conservation, after purchasing a large tract of grassland near Grand Forks. Photo: SILT

Grand Forks grasslands purchased for wildlife conservation

Southern Interior Land Trust buys 86 acres of prime grazing land for California bighorn

A wildlife conservation group added almost 90 acres of land to an already sizeable chunk of grassland habitat near Grand Forks.

Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) purchased 86 acres of southern facing bunchgrass slopes with deciduous shrub thickets that provides habitat for several species, including the Gilpin herd of California bighorn sheep.

“We’re delighted we’ve been successful in our collaboration with so many different interest groups and individuals to conserve these two properties,” said SILT president Judie Steeves. “Now we need to work with the local community to prevent motorized use of these grasslands, so they are not destroyed for use by wildlife.”

The parcel lies two kilometres east of Grand Forks and lies adjacent to another 270 acres that SILT bought earlier this year.

The more than 350 acres supports the Gilpen group of bighorn sheep that numbers between 200 and 300 animals, in addition to abundant white-tailed deer, mule deer, a variety of birds, as well as several species-at-risk, including rattlesnake, gophersnake, spadefoot toad, tiger salamander and badger.

The Gilpin herd has provided decades of hunting opportunity to resident and non-resident hunters, as well as excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

“Both properties have habitat for at least six federally-listed species at risk,” said Kyle Stelter, past president of the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. “We are proud to once again be a partner in this project that leaves a conservation legacy that will forever be upon the landscape, so that future generations have the opportunity to see untouched wild spaces in perpetuity.”

Also known as Lot A of District Lot (DL) 493, the property has a small permanent stream, Deadhorse Creek, that crosses the property’s southwest corner.

Public access is available via Morrissey Creek Road, however, hiking is the preferred method.

Funds for the purchase also came from donors such as the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, B.C. Conservation Foundation, Tom and Jenifer Foss, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C., Wild Sheep Foundation-Alberta, private donors and the Government of Canada through its Natural Heritage Program.

Formed in 1988 to purchase land for wildlife in the Okanagan Region, the board of the Southern Interior Land Trust Society aims to conserve and restore wild land as habitat for wildlife, since it is under increasing pressure from development.

For more information or to make a donation, go to siltrust.ca.

Related read: BC must do more to protect wildlife


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