New additions to a wildlife area in the South Okanagan have more than doubled the amount of land that’s been singled out to protect a host of at-risk creatures.
A total of 514 hectares on two dozen Crown land parcels, from Oliver to the north end of Osoyoos Lake, were added to the South Okanagan Wildlife Area, expanding its overall size to just over 900 hectares.
The addition was announced Monday by Steve Thomson, B.C.’s minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations.
“Wildlife management areas help protect critical wildlife habitat. Our government will continue to seek new opportunities like this one to establish or expand valuable conservation areas,” Thomson said in a press release.
The release notes the new additions near the Okanagan River include riparian and upland habitat that’s home to species at risk like Behr’s Hairstreak butterflies and Lewis’s woodpeckers.
Wildlife management areas give government additional tools to manage land uses there with the assistance of non-profits like the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Barb Pryce, regional program manager for the conservancy, applauded the South Okanagan expansion.
“These new parcels enhance all conservation efforts in this nationally important landscape. The habitat types now being included in the wildlife management areas are critical to sustaining biodiversity in the South Okanagan area,” she said in the release.
The South Okanagan Wildlife Management Area was created in 1994 and this marks the first time it’s been expanded. There are now 28 wildlife management areas in B.C., including three established this year alone.
One of the new additions announced in March was the McTaggart-Cowan Wildlife Management Area near Penticton. The 6,500-hectare plot lies east of Skaha Lake and borders Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park and includes critical bighorn sheep habitat.