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Private donation increases Grasslands Protected Area

By Contributor
October 24th, 2011

BC Parks’ White Lake Grasslands Protected Area is bigger now, thanks to an “ecological gift” from Oliver resident Denis Pelletier.

Pelletier donated the 24.6-hectare property, valued at $475,000, to the Province in memory of his late parents who passed away in the early 1980s. The donation of this ecologically sensitive land qualifies under Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program.

The property is located in an area the Province classified as the Ponderosa Pine Biogeoclimatic Zone. This is one of four zones that are of provincial conservation concern.

“Contributing to public spaces like the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area is very important for future generations,” said Pelletier. “Creating, and more importantly recognizing the value of these ecologically sensitive areas is an important step towards improving our collective quality of life in this province.”

It is rare (less than one per cent of the provincial land base) and listed by B.C.’s Conservation Data Centre (CDC) as being of “special concern” due to high losses – 21 per cent has been converted for human use such as residential development and agriculture.

The CDC reports 192 species potentially inhabit this site. Of those, several nationally listed species at risk are known to inhabit the site, based on CDC and Ministry of Environment records.

These include:

  • Snakes – Western rattlesnake, gopher snake, racer.
  • Amphibians – Great Basin spadefoot.
  • Birds – white-headed woodpecker.

The Province is installing a BC Parks 100 bench on the property in recognition of Pelletier’s parents.

Quick facts

  • The primary role of the protected area is conservation: to protect the very hot and dry grassland, open pine forest and alkali ponds and rock outcroppings of the Southern Okanagan Basin Ecosection.
  • The 3,764 hectare protected area was established in 2001 and covers a geographical area from lakeshore to mountain top providing important habitat for many of British Columbia’s endangered wildlife, plants and plant communities.
  • Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program offers tax benefits to landowners.

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