Luxor Linkage to be preserved by NCC
A prime wildlife corridor linking the Purcell and Rocky mountains has become more secure for the grizzlies, bighorn sheep and other wide-ranging animals that use it thanks to the creation of a new conservation area located six kilometres north of Edgewater.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has acquired a 630-acre (255-hectare) private property that once operated as a Christmas tree farm. At the time of purchase, the land was listed for sale and was being advertised as an opportunity for subdivision and motorized recreation.
The new Luxor Linkage Conservation Area forms part of a connectivity corridor for large animals moving through the valley. This area has been a target for conservation and habitat restoration for more than two decades.
Independent research biologist Michael Proctor has identified these lands as one of the most important zones between Fairmont Hot Springs and Golden for grizzly bears moving between the Purcell and Rocky mountains.
Luxor Linkage supports an amazing diversity of wildlife including the endangered badger, mountain goats, cougar, wolf, bear and many others. Notably, the conservation area includes prime winter range for bighorn sheep, moose, elk and deer.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada plans to restore the traditional open forest and grassland habitats. Restoration efforts on Luxor Linkage will complement similar work completed by the province on adjacent lands. Restoration projects will increase the amount of ecologically significant habitat in the area; in particular, restoration efforts will be targeted to improve the winter habitat used by bighorn sheep.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada recognizes the importance of connecting Canadians with nature and providing recreational access on its lands in ways that are compatible with its conservation goals. The sensitive nature of Luxor Linkage and the surrounding area for key local wildlife will mean that recreational access will be limited to non-motorized use.
“Luxor Linkage is a wonderful conservation project that continues to reveal its natural treasures each time I walk the land. The importance of this for conservation cannot be understated,” said Nancy Newhouse, British Columbia Director of Conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “The Nature Conservancy of Canada is so pleased to be able to help wildlife continue to move safely across and through the valley, while also providing beautiful spaces for residents to walk and enjoy the natural wonders of this region.”
This project was supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program.
“The Luxor Linkage conservation lands support wildlife including the grizzly bear and bighorn sheep. Through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, we are pleased to invest in the protection of this important mountain habitat,” said the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“Choosing Luxor Linkage as a priority property for conservation was supported by the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s science-based planning framework,” said Bob Redgate, BC Region board chair, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We use the best available conservation science to make rigorous and informed decisions. Protecting key movement corridors for wildlife is a great example of smart, high-impact conservation.”
This property supports Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir forest, two creeks (Luxor and Kindersley) and an understory of native grasses and forbs.
The open forest and grasslands support high value winter range for bighorn sheep, elk and deer, as well habitat for several rare and at-risk species, including the nationally- endangered American badger.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is working on a second parcel to complement this first acquisition.
If successful, this additional purchase will add another 330 acres (133 hectares) to the conservation area, the NCC reported.
Images by Bonnie Lou Ferris