Province takes over conservation property on Similkameen

By on November 4, 2015

A conservation property on the Similkameen River is one of three ecologically sensitive properties taken over by the province recently.

In October, the province took over the 45-hectare Similkameen River Pines, which features a rare riparian floodplain and upland grasslands habitat for species at risk.

The property is next to the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area and could be included in a future national park reserve.

In a news release issued last Thursday, the provincial government said it has committed $1 million to assume ownership of several of 26 conservation properties transferred recently from financially troubled The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

The province said it intends to add these properties to existing parks and protected areas within the next five years. Additional properties may be acquired by the province through its partnership with NCC and will be announced next year.

Lesley Neilson, an NCC spokesperson, said when NCC acquired the 26 conservation properties from TLC, the intention was always to transfer some of these to other agencies.

TLC entered into creditor protection in October 2013 because it could no longer service its debts. In April 2015, the creditors and the Supreme Court of B.C. approved a plan of arrangement.

By selling off a number of properties, TLC was able to continue holding 200 conservation covenants across the province.

Simikameen River Pines is located on the east side of the Similkameen River next to the international border and the Chopaka West portion of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area.

It is included in Area 1 under the provincial government’s Intentions Paper for a protected areas framework in the South Okanagan. Under the province’s proposal, this area would become a national park reserve.

The other two conservation properties recently acquired by NCC, which have been transferred to the province, are 3.7 hectares along the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island and 35 hectares next to Syringa Park near Castlegar.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

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