Our Story

EARLY DAYS

The story of Kootenay Conservation Program began when a small group of people in the East Kootenay were concerned that the place they loved was about to change. Across the region undeveloped properties were being subdivided at an unprecedented rate, putting tracts of ecologically-valuable land and the future health of wildlife populations at risk.

Some of this group were born and raised in the Columbia Valley, tending cattle on rolling fields. Some knew where badgers burrowed, when prairie crocus emerged, where long-billed curlews nested. Most cared about conservation and understood how much important habitat was at stake. Their relationship with the landscape varied, but one thing connected them: a desire to work together to conserve the land and the future of the region they cared about.

In 2002 we held our first workshop and officially formed the East Kootenay Conservation Program (EKCP) – a partnership of people working to conserve and steward private land.

WHY PRIVATE LAND?

The Kootenay region is an incredible place of global ecological significance, offering habitat for an abundance of plant, animal and fish species. The richest habitat occurs in valley bottoms,  where humans often live. This means many important habitats are found on private land and are more vulnerable to human activity.

Some private lands also offer an essential connection to the larger landscape, helping to build linkage corridors that allow for wildlife movement and climate adaptation.

Ever since the first meeting, our focus has always been on the conservation of private land. Although we do not own, acquire or steward private land, our role is to coordinate and support the efforts of our partners that do.

GROWING THE PARTNERSHIP

Given the success of EKCP, and the desire for a similar approach in the West Kootenay, our service area expanded to include the West Kootenay region. In 2012, we became Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP), formally recognizing the connection between the East and West Kootenay. More than just a new name, we also gained the opportunity to support new partners, address unique regional challenges and help conserve different ecosystems.

We are now a partnership of 85 organizations, all working towards a collaborative vision. As our partnership continues to grow, our priorities remain the same, a commitment to: land conservation, stewardship, sharing knowledge, building financial tools, and the network.