The conservation of District Lot 48, located on the undeveloped eastern side of Columbia Lake, is hailed as the finest example of multi-faceted cooperation when it comes to conservation in the East Kootenay’s recent history.
It took about two decades of negotiation, discussion and organization, resulting in several agencies working together, from conservation to industry, before the property was officially protected for its ecological and cultural importance.
While $2 million in funding support from Teck Resources helped reach the $7.2 million goal to purchase the property, the NCC received valuable initial support from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF), managed by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) in partnership with the Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP). This fund is derived from a $20 per property tax levy through the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).
“Protecting Lot 48 is essential to maintaining the integrity of the entire east side of the lake forever. This is an incredible win for the conservation community in British Columbia, and we couldn’t have succeeded without the support of so many partners,” said Nancy Newhouse, Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Canadian Rockies program manager.
The area supports valuable winter range for bighorn sheep, elk and other ungulates, several rare and endangered species, and is a sacred landscape to the Ktunaxa Nation.
Lot 48 is adjacent to Columbia Lake Provincial Park, as well as the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area and the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area, effectively ensuring the entire east side of the Columbia River’s headwaters lake is preserved for future generations.
“As reviewers, we recognized the exceptional ecological value of Lot 48 and were pleased that the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund could provide this critical initial funding,” said Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund Technical Review Committee Chair, Dr. Cameron Gillies.
“The value of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund cannot be overstated. The RDEK showed true leadership in supporting the establishment of the fund, which was truly unique in Canada, and now so many worthwhile projects benefit as a direct result of that leadership including the Columbia Lake – Lot 48 project,” added Dave Hillary Kootenay Conservation Program Manager.
The RDEK provides funds for the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, an initiative that found its feet when the majority of Columbia Valley taxpayers, via an election referendum when they agreed to spend $20 a year on a special property tax that provides about $230,000 a year, and now goes to a wide variety of conservation and stewardship programs in the valley.
In recognition of the RDEK’s leadership in establishing and administering this Local Conservation Fund, they have been selected as a finalist for the Real Estate Foundation of BC’s Land Awards, with the winner being announced at the Land Awards Gala in Vancouver on October 25.
For more information on the Land Awards: http://www.refbc.com/land-awards/2013/finalists
For more on the Kootenay Conservation Program and the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund see: http://kootenayconservation.ca .