Local Conservation Fund Feature: Windermere West

The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) in partnership with the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) provide funding for projects that benefit conservation in the area from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats through the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF). The purpose of the CVLCF is to provide local financial support for important projects that will contribute to the conservation of our valuable natural areas; one step towards restoring and preserving a healthy environment.

A conservation-minded couple has partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect more than 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) of grasslands on their Columbia Valley ranch. Bob and Barb Shaunessy are the owners of SRL-K2 Ranch, a working cattle ranch that dates back to 1898. The Shaunessys have spent years restoring the ranch’s grasslands to their former vitality, efforts which have culminated in the establishment of a conservation covenant on a large portion of the ranchlands.

The conservation covenant, which is held by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, protects the lands from the biggest ecological threats that valley-bottom lands in the East Kootenay face: subdivision and development. Located on the west side of Windermere Lake, the SRL-K2 Ranch Conservation Project ensures that much of the west side will remain free of the development pressures that have significantly altered the ecology of the east side of the lake.

The Shaunessys have long welcomed non-motorized use of parts of their property, and are currently working with the regional district to establish a Legacy Trail that would cross through the covenanted land and connect Invermere to Fairmont Hot Springs.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada will continue to work closely with the Shaunessys to enhance the conservation value of the lands and to support the habitat needs of the wildlife that rely on this area for feeding and breeding. In particular, these lands are frequented by wide-ranging animals moving both east-west and north-south through the valley, including elk, deer, badger, bobcat and bear.

This project was generously supported by a number of local agencies: the Columbia Basin Trust, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Regional District of East Kootenay. Funding was also provided by the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.

The SRL-K2 Ranch Conservation Project would not have been possible without the considerable financial, strategic and visionary contributions of Bob and Barb Shaunessy.

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