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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Head-on collision Jan. 14 claims one life west of Fort St. James

Jenkins said alcohol, as well as road surface conditions, have been ruled out as factors

Nechako River, Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Officials keeping close tabs on Nechako River after ice jam causes area flooding

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, though, said water levels have gone down, for now

Vanderhoof home sees water from the Nechako move up into the yard, and within hours, water was seen up to the deck. Ken Young, Vanderhoof councillor posted this photo on social media.
Mayor concerned about ice jams in the Nechako river

“We have never lived with a frozen river at this magnitude during our time in council,” mayor said.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read