BC couple donate property with pristine grizzly habitat to conservation group

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A couple from British Columbia donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada a large piece of land near Bella Coola containing virgin rainforest and rich riparian habitat.

Harvey and Carol Thommasen donated the 122-hectare parcel on British Columbia’s central coast, now known as Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area, under the federal government’s ecological gifts program.

Steven Godfrey, the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s west coast program director, said the couple were “awesome naturalists” who bought the land with the intention of protecting it.

“[It is] a very important gift, ”said Godfrey.

The land is part of the Bella Coola Valley, with floodplains and riparian habitats and old growth forest. It is home to five species of Pacific salmon, grizzly bears and several species of birds.

But potential industrial uses could threaten the ecological integrity of the fertile valley.

“The main threats to land like this would simply be to be used for logging or potentially converted to agriculture or used for recreational development or even residential development,” Godfrey said.

Grizzly bears actively forage along the shores of the 122 hectare Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area. (Harvey Thommasen / Nature Conservancy of Canada)

In a statement, Harvey Thommasen said his initial desire was to protect the region’s bird species.

“Carol and I donated this land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada primarily to help forest birds whose populations have declined by 30% since the 1970s. This land will also help salmon and trout whose populations have also terribly affected. suffered over the past 50 years. , and will provide a safe passageway for animals like deer, grizzly bears and other large mammals moving through the Bella Coola Valley, ”said Thomassen.

The transfer of land was made with the consent and support of the Nuxalk First Nation; these lands are part of its traditional territory.

“They’ve been managing the land there for thousands of years, from time immemorial. It’s a small amount of time that we’ve been involved in the area, so their support for the project and their consent for us to work in. the territory was crucial for us to take charge of the project, ”said Godfrey.

A map detailing the location of the new conservation area. (Nature Conservancy of Canada)

The new conservation area joins a network of other protected areas in the region, including the Burnt Bridge Creek Conservation Area and Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

This connectivity, Godfrey says, will help species in the region.

“This is a good start in providing enough habitat for the different species of wildlife that inhabit the valley,” he said.


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