by EVAN MATTHEWS
Two pieces of land near McBride have been donated to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to be managed as protected areas, but who donated the properties?
The two properties are more commonly known as The Natasha Boyd Wetland Conservation Area and The West Twin Protected Area, and their respective ownership history is lengthy.
The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) purchased The Natasha Boyd Wetland Conservation Area in 2004 for the sole purpose of designating the property as a conservation area, according to the Ministry, and in 2006, TLC purchased The West Twin Protected Area for the same reason. Both areas have since been private conservation projects, with funding for the projects coming from individuals, foundations, businesses and governments.
A private conservation area is a conservation property that is owned and managed by a private organization, as opposed to a public agency, according to the Ministry.
The Natasha Boyd Wetland Conservation Area is made up of 155 acres — 63 hectares — of low-lying wetlands and upland forests, according to the Ministry. The upland forests of paper birch, trembling aspen, white and black spruce, lodgepole pine and western red cedar surround clusters of inter-connected wetlands. The wetlands include bogs, which are areas with deep, nutrient poor and acidic soils, fens, which are nutrient rich areas with deep peat soils vegetated by sedges and grasses, and shallow pools and ponds.
“This transfer of lands from one land trust to another was undertaken to assure a secure future for these important natural areas,” says Linda Hannah, Regional Vice-president for the NCC’s B.C. Region
The area is habitat for moose, mule deer, grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, beavers and snowshoe hares, according to the Ministry, while a wide range of songbirds and waterfowl also inhabit the area.
The West Twin Protected Area is made up of 157 acres — 64 hectares — of fish and wildlife habitat along the Fraser River near McBride, according to the Ministry.
This property lies within the existing West Twin Protected Area, the only protected corridor across the Robson Valley Trench.
An important feature, according to B.C. Parks, is the large stand of mature cottonwood on the property, which increasingly rare in the region. This property, too, provides habitat to many of the same birds and other wildlife species, moose and deer winter range, and important fish habitat.
Low elevation habitat similar to this — near Valemount — was lost to flooding when the Mica dam was built, according to the Ministry, and the acquisition helps protect some of the remaining habitat in the area.
In 2015, to ensure ongoing conservation due to TLC suffering “significant financial trouble and having to pay off millions of dollars in debt”, the Ministry told the Goat both properties were transferred to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) along with 26 other properties previously owned by TLC.
“This transfer of lands from one land trust to another was undertaken to assure a secure future for these important natural areas,” says Linda Hannah, Regional Vice-president for the NCC’s B.C. Region.
“Being able to secure a future for nature means being able to practice good governance, fiscal prudence and organizational transparency,” she says.
However, at the time Hannah stated the NCC didn’t take on the task of saving the 26 properties alone, and formed partnerships with The Nature Trust of British Columbia (TNTBC) and B.C. Parks.
The most recent transfer of the two McBride properties came when the NCC donated the properties to the Ministry in order for them to be included in the provincial parks and protected areas, meaning B.C. Parks will manage The Natasha Boyd Wetland Conservation Area and The West Twin Protected Area.
Five of the 26 properties are now owned and managed by TNTBC, according to Hannah, while eight have been folded in the BC government’s parks and protected areas portfolio. The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns and will care for the remaining thirteen, she says.