The purchase of two Duck Lake properties from Wynndel Box and Lumber by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is intended to benefit grizzly bear and northern leopard frog populations.
The sale, recently announced by NCC, involves 306 acres (124 hectares), some of which is currently in agricultural production. That use will continue.
“Protecting this land in the valley bottom is vitally important for the long‐term prospects of the South Selkirk grizzly bear population,” said Nancy Newhouse, Canadian Rockies program manager for the NCC. “These lands are also incredibly important for agriculture. The NCC is proud to be able to work hand in hand with local producers to protect both wildlife habitat and our farming heritage.”
The purchased land is frequented by an at-risk population of grizzly bears that move between the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges. It is also home to the only known breeding population of the endangered northern leopard frog, which has been a key focus of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area for years.
The project is named Frog‐Bear Conservation Area in honour of two of the key species that will benefit from its conservation. The total cost of the project is $1.1 million, which includes an endowment fund to enable long‐term stewardship of the properties.
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) played a critical role in this project, Newhouse said.
The joint U.S.-Canada organization works to ensure that wild animals are able to move through and around human communities and activities within the 1.3 million-kilometre Yellowstone to Yukon region. Y2Y not only provided half the purchase funds for the property, but also helped fund the research that identified the significance of this parcel.
“We are pleased to have come together with NCC to buy this land at Duck Lake, which is critical for the survival of large mammals and amphibians,” said Harvey Locke, Y2Y Strategic advisor. “Highway 3 is the most important area to ensure wildlife connectivity is preserved in the entire Yellowstone to Yukon region.”
Renowned grizzly bear expert Michael Procter supports the land purchase.
“Grizzly bears are what we call an umbrella species, meaning their range is so large that it overlaps the habitat of many other species,” said Proctor, lead researcher of the Trans‐border Grizzly Bear Project. “Through habitat modelling we identify where bears will most likely travel through the valley, which then guides our conservation efforts to the highest value habitat for bears and, by default, many other creatures.”
Additional funding for the project came from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Donner Canadian Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation and other private donors.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not‐for‐profit private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than two million acres (800,000 hectares) coast to coast.