As the Kootenay Conservation Land Manager for the Nature Trust of BC, Chris Bosman oversees the management of almost 27,000 acres of ecologically relevant land across the region on behalf of one of the leading land trusts, which focuses exclusively within British Columbia
Though a far cry from his humble ski bum beginnings (Chris first moved to the Kootenays from Ontario in 2003 to hit the Fernie slopes for a winter), the same passion for the local landscape that kept him in the Kootenays continues to guide his work today.
“There’s something about the landscape, that sense of place. It’s always felt friendly, like home,” he said. “The Rocky Mountain Trench is also a very interesting place in that you have remnant grasslands in sight of the Rocky Mountains and Purcells. A neat intersection of landscapes.”
The mission of the Nature Trust is to conserve B.C.’s biodiversity and that’s accomplished through a two-pronged approach: acquiring land and land management. When it comes to land acquisition, Chris splits his time working on land securement projects in both the East and West Kootenays. He is usually the first point of contact for landowners interested in selling or donating property – weekly inquiries from the public during the spring/summer field season are the norm – if they seem promising, he then meets with them to assess a property for its values to determine if it’s a fit. He’s often the driving force behind obtaining the necessary funding for property acquisition.
“That involves a lot of relationship building not just with funders but also with other groups that are pretty key,” he said, citing rod and gun clubs as one example. “They’re passionate and committed and are putting money towards what they consider to be worthy projects. Any amount helps.”
Acquiring land also means having to manage it. Of the 27 different conservation property complexes throughout the Kootenays, some are co-managed with the Province while others are managed by the Nature Trust alone. A property complex can be either one parcel or numerous parcels connected or in close proximity to each other.
“When you look at property management, there’s always the basics you need to do, things like maintaining fences so there’s no trespass of cattle or motor vehicles, for example,” Chris said.
Then there’s boundary signage and the removal of infrastructure on properties that have a history of previous use. For properties with trails or bridges, steps need to be taken to ensure the property is safe for public access, all the while making sure that the conservation values for which it was purchased are also being maintained.
“The other part of land management is focused more on the stewardship component. That’s where you’re a little more active in trying to maintain or improve enhance the ecological condition of that property,” said Chris. “That could mean thinning conifer encroachment on a lot of our grassland properties, invasive plant treatment or wetland restoration and enhancement projects.”
As with many land trusts, NTBC wants its properties to be resilient to climate change, supporting a full suite of species, particularly species at risk. Properties that accomplish this now and into the future have the highest ecological value and benefit.
Chris has an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Lakehead University. Prior to becoming the Kootenay Conservation Land Manager in 2017, he was the Interim Director of Lands and Natural Resources for the ?aq’am First Nation, the Recreation and Control Services Supervisor for the Regional District of East Kootenay and an Auxiliary Wildlife Technician for the BC Provincial Government. He has also served as a director on a variety of social and environmental non-profit boards. Chris lives in Kimberley and works from The Nature Trust of BC’s Cranbrook office.
Learn more about the Nature Trust of BC by visiting their website: https://www.naturetrust.bc.ca/