We’re responsible to conserve habitat

Wild places for fish and wildlife must be protected says a renowned scientist who is on the board of the Nature Trust of B.C.

Conserving patches of natural land is not only valuable for fish and wildlife

B.C. has a global responsibility to conserve habitat for fish and wildlife, simply because it’s a last refuge for wildlife, comments Robert Butler, research scientist, author and internationally-known speaker on topics such as ornithology.

Butler is a member of the board of the Nature Trust of B.C. and says it’s particularly important that habitat here is protected because so many large mammals have retreated to B.C., Alaska and the Yukon as a last refuge.

Lowlands such as valley bottoms are particularly critical habitats, yet they’re especially threatened by development for human interests, he notes.

And that’s where organizations such as the nature trust come in.

This week, the nature trust is celebrating the purchase of a 2,000-acre grassland property at Twin Lakes, east of Penticton.

“We do a lot of good work around the province,” he noted.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to get people to visualize the importance of places they don’t see every day,” he noted. For instance, habitat for wildlife—to those living in cities —is often too far removed from their daily lives for them to understand the importance of conserving such wild land.

The nature trust has been around for 40 years and is financially secure, with a lot of properties it is responsible for. The board is very inspired and it has a bright future, says Butler. “It’s not like government, which comes and goes. It’s very stable,” he added.

Conserving wild lands is like a good investment, he says. Properties like Rose Valley Pond in West Kelowna, which the nature trust, along with the Central Okanagan Land Trust, the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund and other partners purchased in 1992, are great educational tools to help youngsters learn about the web of life in a natural wetland, he notes.

Located adjacent to Rose Valley elementary, the small parcel became the key to a 250-hectare regional park by the same name, with the regional district holding tenure on the Crown-owned land.

It’s just one example of the work the trust has done and is doing in the valley. The Nature Trust has also contributed several parcels of land to Okanagan Mountain Park and to purchase of Woodhaven Nature Conservancy in Kelowna.

Often, he says, people don’t realize until it’s too late that it’s important to preserve particular wild spaces and natural features.

John Keller, who is on staff with the nature trust, points out that they worked with a wide variety of organizations, including both federal and provincial ministries, private donors and non-profit groups to acquire the Twin Lakes property, and he believes that kind of collaboration is important to achieve the trust’s goals.

Collaboration is also what led to creation of the annual Earth Wind and Fire fund-raising gala at the Delta Grand, which features fare from some of the province’s finest chefs and top wines, along with live entertainment from the beginning of the evening to the end.

Funds from last year’s event went toward purchase of the Twin Lakes property.

A feature of the event is the great Wall of Wine—1,000 bottles of some of B.C.’s best wines estimated at a value of $37,000—which will be auctioned off during the evening, along with some great trips and special adventures, food and collectables, cookbooks and jewelry.

It’s Friday, June 1, at the Delta Grand Okanagan, beginning with a sparkling reception at 5:30 p.m. Tickets and details are available at the website: www.naturetrust.bc.ca under events.