VIDEO: Conservation group buys Kootenay farm to protect grizzlies, elk, trout

VIDEO: Conservation group buys Kootenay farm to protect grizzlies, elk, trout

Nature Conservancy of Canada brings 43 hectares near Morrissey Meadows into conservation fold

Just over 40 hectares of land south of Fernie has been acquired by the Nature Conservancy of Canada that will protect a wildlife corridor used by grizzly bears, elk and other wildlife.

The acquisition of the Fitzen Farm, which was partially donated and partially sold by Deb de Hoog, will connect a vast expanse of provincial land to the west, with additional NCC-protected lands to the east.

de Hoog is the granddaughter of the original homesteaders — Charlie and Ruth Fitzen, who lived and farmed on the property for much of the last century since 1913.

“I’m delighted that the Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected this property, and I think my grandpa would have been really happy to know that the land went to conservation,” said Deb de Hoog. “We need to go forth as if we are borrowing land from future generations, and leave it better than when we found. I think that is what the Nature Conservancy of Canada is doing.”

The sale, publicly announced in honour of World Environment Day, included funding contributions from the federal government’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, the BC Conservation Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Fitzen Family and Elllen Almond Stuart.

“I am thrilled to see this important wildlife corridor be protected for future generations of Canadians,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program our government is working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and their partners to protect Canada’s biodiversity and conserve key ecosystems for a healthy environment and economy.”

The newly protected area, known as the Morrissey Meadows, is frequented by grizzly and black bears, whitetail and mule deer, elk and moose as they travel across the Elk Valley. The Elk River winds through the property as well, which creates wetlands that provide spawning and rearing grounds for fish.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, grizzly bear, American badger, little brown myotis, bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout can be found within the Fitzen Farm property.

“The safe movement of large mammals through the valley-bottom land is essential to their long-term viability in the Elk Valley,” said Richard Klafki, Canadian Rockies Program Director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We were excited by the opportunity to close a gap between provincial land and other NCC conservation lands. Building connectivity between protected and provincial land is a key strategy for strengthening conservation in this region.”

Klafki said there was a study done five years ago looking at various lands within the Elk Valley that held significant ecological values, with the Fizen Farm being identified as one such area.

de Hoog had the property up for sale but Klafki said negotiations took about a year and half until a deal was reached, after the Nature Conservancy of Canada was tipped off by a provincial government ministry.

A community event will be held on Morrissey Meadows on Saturday, June 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to join NCC staff and project supporters for a celebratory barbecue on the new conservation area.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison hopes for economic recovery plan in upcoming federal budget

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative looking for post-pandemic recovery plan in next week’s Liberal budget

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

Most Read