For additional information, please link to our Frequently Asked Questions document below.
Within the Kootenays, the richest habitat exists in valley bottoms, which is also where humans often choose to live. This means many critical habitats are found on private land. Although private land covers a small portion of the region’s total land base (8%), keeping it ecologically intact plays a big part in conservation success.
From a large landscape perspective, undeveloped land in valley bottoms acts as the foundation for mid and high elevation habitats; the protection of which allows contiguous wildlife travel corridors to exist between different higher elevation habitats. In many cases the conservation of key parcels of low elevation private land ensures landscape level habitat connectivity, thereby conserving the ecological integrity of much larger areas. Because these low elevation areas have a disproportionately low level of representation in Provincial and National Parks and a high degree of ecological significance, land trusts have prioritized them for securement.
Rationale for private land conservation in the Kootenays is threefold:
- To conserve biodiversity;
- To compensate for historical losses of important ecological features such as low elevation forests, grasslands and riparian areas; and
- To conserve a selection of important ecological features that might otherwise be lost due to the impacts of human development, climate change and preventable natural disturbances, either in the near‐term or well into the future.
Securement of private land protects conservation values on the property for generations to come. Beyond conservation values, these lands can also protect other values such as First Nations cultural/heritage sites and certain types of recreation use.
There are several active land trusts in the Kootenays:
- Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
- The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC)
- The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC)
- Valhalla Foundation for Ecology
- Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT)
KCP provides a coordination and collaboration role for private land securement in the Kootenay region.
KCP is not a land trust and does not hold or acquire properties or covenants. However, KCP serves as a one-stop shop for inquiries or potential property donations so feel free to contact us.
KCP provides a coordination and collaboration role for private land securement in the Kootenay region. The KCP Securement Committee includes members from the large land trusts (NCC and NTBC) as well as other key organizations who are actively involved in landscape‐level land acquisition for conservation (e.g. provincial government, Canadian Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program). Securement Committee member organizations operate throughout the entire KCP Service Area to provide holistic, regional overview. KCP evaluates properties based on biological and administrative criteria to set priorities for land acquisition in the Kootenays. Priorities are based on
- Presence of habitat and species at risk
- Property size and linkage to other conservation corridors
- Urgency of conservation threats
- Management and maintenance responsibilities
- Available funding
KCP is not a land trust and does not hold or acquire properties or covenants. Rather, KCP serves as a forum for discussion, prioritization, coordination, and supporting subsequent stewardship.
Land securement is the process of setting property into conservation status to conserve, typically in-perpetuity, land-based values of interest. Two common securement mechanisms are fee simple acquisition and conservation covenants.
- Fee simple acquisition consists of obtaining legal ownership of a property through purchase and/or donation.
- A conservation covenant is an encumbrance permanently registered on a property’s land title restricting and/or prescribing certain land uses, transactions and/or management regimes to conserve the property’s ecological values. As with fee simple acquisitions, conservation covenants are established through purchase and/or donation; but differently, they require annual compliance monitoring.
Potential acquisitions are prioritized based on the principles of conservation biology including:
- reducing habitat fragmentation and increasing landscape-level connectivity
- ensuring sustainable populations of keystone species (such as grizzly bears) and their necessary corridors for movement
- representing and protecting the most “at risk” habitats, and
- considering the percentage with which these habitat types occur on private land.
KCP conducts an evaluation of the property based on its criteria, and each land trust has its own methodologies to further evaluate how well individual properties fit with their mandates and priorities.
Within the Kootenays, NTBC targets the following three biogeoclimatic zones of conservation concern (Taking Nature’s Pulse) types of ecosystems that, for the most part, are found only in dry low elevation valleys: Bunchgrass, Ponderosa Pine, and Interior Douglas-Fir. Within the Columbia Basin, NTBC’s conservation efforts are primarily focused in the Rocky Mountain Trench, although they do own properties in other parts of the Basin. Prospective conservation properties are evaluated by NTBC based on the types and rarity of ecosystems and species present, biogeoclimatic zones of concern, relative threat, how much of the ecosystems found on the site are already protected elsewhere, and contiguity with other conservation lands. Ecologically significant properties are then assessed in more detail to identify management considerations for maintaining and/or enhancing the ecological values over time, along with the associated costs, to aid NTBC in making sound decisions for conserving BC’s natural diversity.
NCC uses Natural Area Conservation Plans (NACP) to direct its conservation activities. Within the Kootenays there are three natural area plans: South Selkirk (West Kootenay), Rocky Mountain Trench, and Elk Flathead. These are the priority areas within the larger landscape that, in NCC’s view, contain the greatest concentrations of ecological values. Specific ecological targets are identified at the NACP level, taking the region’s biodiversity, threats, and conservation opportunities into consideration. Depending on the area, these may include considerations for connectivity and wildlife corridors, species-at-risk habitat (e.g., Grizzly bear, Mountain Caribou, Northern leopard frog), and priority ecosystems (old growth Interior Cedar-Hemlock, dry Interior Cedar Hemlock, hydro-riparian and wetland ecosystems, rivers, streams and lakes, low elevation forests, high elevation forests, grasslands and open forests, and mesic forests).