Columbia Lake-Lot 48 (Photo by Steve Short)
Columbia Lake-Lot 48 (Photo by Steve Short)

Columbia Lake - Lot 48

Wood lilies

Wood lilies are one of the more showy flower found around Columbia Lake.

Wedged between the Rocky Mountains and the Purcell Range in southeastern British Columbia, the Rocky Mountain Trench is a flat-bottomed valley carved into existence by the Columbia River. Here wildlife roams between mountain ranges, birds rest midway on their seasonal migrations and rare plant communities persist.

The Upper Columbia Valley lies at the heart of the trench and maintains an ecological richness that is quickly being eroded in surrounding areas. This is the only stretch of the Columbia River that has been left unaltered by dams, and it is part of the longest uninterrupted wetland in western North America. Unlike many other areas in the world, this region still supports a full suite of large native mammals, such as bear and cougar, elk and deer. For these reasons and more the area has been a hotspot of conservation activities over the years, and continues to be a conservation priority.

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Wetlands on Columbia Lake - Lot 48 (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Lot 48 is part of a natural expanse that supports many iconic Rocky Mountain animals and the plant communities on which they depend. The native grasslands on the east side of Columbia Lake represent the largest connected expanse of prime winter range for deer, elk and other grazing animals in the Upper Columbia Valley, as well as one of the best winter ranges for bighorn sheep in British Columbia. Once secured, Lot 48 became part of a network of conservation lands that spans more than 18,500 acres (7,600 hectares).

Now, the entire east shore of Columbia Lake can continue to serve as a critical north-south and east-west wildlife corridor as well as providing first-class habitat for several rare and endangered species.

Lot 48 is located in the Pacific Flyway, near the headwaters of the Columbia River and the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area.

Cultural values

The east side of Columbia Lake has great spiritual significance for the Ktunaxa First Nation, whose stories celebrate the area as the cradle of human life.

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Columbia Lake-Lot 48 with the Hoodoos in the background (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Historically, Columbia Lake served as a major travel route to the prairies, a site for villages and a site for camps and ceremonial events. The area also provided salmon, game and other food gathering.

Numerous archaeological sites have been documented on the east side of the lake, including one of the main traditional transportation routes through the valley (now referred to as the Spirit Trail).

History

Protecting Lot 48 from development was a long-standing priority for the conservation community, as well as the Ktunaxa First Nation and other residents of the Upper Columbia Valley. The property is the last remaining parcel that is not designated for conservation on the east side of the lake. Preventing recreational development and further road construction in the area will safeguard the many natural and cultural values of the whole eastern side of Columbia Lake.

The conservation of Lot 48 is supported by several regional planning initiatives, including the East Kootenay Conservation Program, the Regional District of East Kootenay’s Regional Growth Strategy and Fairmont Hot Springs’s Official Community Plan.

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