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Purcell Wilderness Area benefits from BC Government land acquisition near Argenta

The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy is the largest park in southeast BC and provides critical habitat for wildlife like grizzlies, mountain goats and wolverines, while at the same time protecting diverse ecosystems, from the high alpine to the old growth inland temperate rainforest. — Photo courtesy John Bergenske

Recently, the BC government announced the acquisition of more than 650 hectares of land intended to be added to 16 provincial parks and two protected areas.

Buried on Page 7 of the BC Parks Land Acquisition Program Report PDF is an 18-hectare parcel of land on north end of Kootenay Lake across from Kaslo and south of Argenta that will be added to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Protect Area.

“BC Parks identified this parcel as important, as it provides connectivity from the mountain peaks right down to the shoreline for wildlife,” said Robyn Duncan, Executive Director for Wildsight.

Wildsight is an environment group based in the East Kootenay tasked with protecting wildlife, water and wild places in Canada's Columbia and Rocky Mountain regions.

“A lot of the park along the lake shore is dominated by cliffs, making it difficult for wildlife to reach the lake,” Duncan added.

“Protecting this parcel will make sure wildlife can access the lake, now and forever.”

The 18-hectare parcel of land on Kootenay Lake is located 20 kilometers south of Argenta, across the north end of Kootenay Lake from Kaslo. — Screenshot photo

The BC Government said the purchases will benefit the increasing number of outdoor recreationists enjoying the BC parks system.

“Our parks and protected areas are among the natural treasures of our province and play an important role in our overall health and well-being, especially during COVID-19,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in the government media release.

“These areas also provide critical habitat to a number of species. Acquiring additional land means more species and ecosystems will be protected and the land will be here for generations to come.”

Duncan said the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy is the largest park in southeast BC and provides critical habitat for wildlife like grizzlies, mountain goats and wolverines, while at the same time protecting diverse ecosystems, from the high alpine to the old growth inland temperate rainforest.

“This parcel protects an important part of the travel corridor for wildlife, from mountain peak to valley bottom on the lake shore,” Duncan said, adding the parcel of land purchased for $640,000 is located 20 kilometers south of Argenta, across the north end of Kootenay Lake from Kaslo.

British Columbia has 1,035 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares, or approximately 14.4% of the provincial land base. During the last three years, 883 hectares of land have been acquired for parks and protected areas.

Through the acquisition of private land and partnerships with conservation groups and individual donors, the Province regularly adds land to the parks and protected areas system, which is one of the largest park systems in the world. The newly acquired land is valued at more than $9.7 million

“British Columbians love our parks and we know it’s more important than ever to protect nature,” Duncan explained.

“The Central Purcells are extremely important for wildlife and we look forward to future protections through the Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in Qat’muk (Jumbo).”

The Purcell Wilderness Area embraces six large drainages, three flowing east to the Columbia River system and three flowing west to Kootenay Lake. It is a challenging, undeveloped nearly pristine mountain landscape encompassing five biogeoclimatic zones and the only intact ecosystem in southeastern B.C. Wilderness recreation values include hunting, fishing, hiking, cultural sites, climbing and wildlife viewing.