VIDEO: Conservation group buys Kootenay farm to protect grizzlies, elk, trout

Nature Conservancy of Canada brings 43 hectares near Morrissey Meadows into conservation fold

Just over 40 hectares of land south of Fernie has been acquired by the Nature Conservancy of Canada that will protect a wildlife corridor used by grizzly bears, elk and other wildlife.

The acquisition of the Fitzen Farm, which was partially donated and partially sold by Deb de Hoog, will connect a vast expanse of provincial land to the west, with additional NCC-protected lands to the east.

de Hoog is the granddaughter of the original homesteaders — Charlie and Ruth Fitzen, who lived and farmed on the property for much of the last century since 1913.

“I’m delighted that the Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected this property, and I think my grandpa would have been really happy to know that the land went to conservation,” said Deb de Hoog. “We need to go forth as if we are borrowing land from future generations, and leave it better than when we found. I think that is what the Nature Conservancy of Canada is doing.”

The sale, publicly announced in honour of World Environment Day, included funding contributions from the federal government’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, the BC Conservation Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Fitzen Family and Elllen Almond Stuart.

“I am thrilled to see this important wildlife corridor be protected for future generations of Canadians,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program our government is working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and their partners to protect Canada’s biodiversity and conserve key ecosystems for a healthy environment and economy.”

The newly protected area, known as the Morrissey Meadows, is frequented by grizzly and black bears, whitetail and mule deer, elk and moose as they travel across the Elk Valley. The Elk River winds through the property as well, which creates wetlands that provide spawning and rearing grounds for fish.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, grizzly bear, American badger, little brown myotis, bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout can be found within the Fitzen Farm property.

“The safe movement of large mammals through the valley-bottom land is essential to their long-term viability in the Elk Valley,” said Richard Klafki, Canadian Rockies Program Director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We were excited by the opportunity to close a gap between provincial land and other NCC conservation lands. Building connectivity between protected and provincial land is a key strategy for strengthening conservation in this region.”

Klafki said there was a study done five years ago looking at various lands within the Elk Valley that held significant ecological values, with the Fizen Farm being identified as one such area.

de Hoog had the property up for sale but Klafki said negotiations took about a year and half until a deal was reached, after the Nature Conservancy of Canada was tipped off by a provincial government ministry.

A community event will be held on Morrissey Meadows on Saturday, June 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to join NCC staff and project supporters for a celebratory barbecue on the new conservation area.

Just Posted

Hatching a plan for Prince Rupert’s salmon

Prince Rupert Salmonid Enhancement Society Annual General Meeting open to all on Sept. 20

Anglers furious over VIP fishing trip

DFO, SkeenaWild both investigating legality of FN research licence to fishing party

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Visibility improvements coming for Prince Rupert’s downtown streets

Work on McBride Street and Second Avenue intersections, crosswalks, will take place this fall

Pipeline challenger says his feelings are irrelevant

The prospect of a federal review has Kitimat and Terrace businesses and residents worried

More than 125 runners take part in Northern View Cannery Road Race

Teen Terrace runners first to finish 5km and 10km, Prince Rupert runner wins 21km race

Province announces 74 new French teaching spots at SFU, UBC

Needed to fill demand for increasingly popular French immersion programs in B.C.

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read