Marion Creek Benchlands
Wetlands in the Marion Creek Benchlands, British Columbia (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)
Wedged between the Rocky Mountains and the Purcell Range in south eastern 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 River Valley lies in the north end 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 as the longest uninterrupted wetland in Western North America.
For these reasons and more the area has been a hotspot of conservation activities over the years, and continues to be a conservation priority.
Completing the conservation puzzle
On the western benchlands of Columbia Lake a patchwork of conservation properties forms a mosaic of protected areas. Sitting amidst of this wild space is Marion Creek Benchlands. This 504-acre (204-hectare) parcel bridges two conservation properties, which themselves are adjacent to additional protected areas. Conserving Marion Creek Benchlands bring the total protected area along the western side of the lake to more than 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares).
With the Upper Columbia Valley under steady and intense development pressure, the acquisition of Marion Creek Benchlands effectively and immediately secured the benchlands on the western side of Columbia Lake from the ever-present threat of residential subdivision and development.
Marion Creek Benchlands is emblematic Rocky Mountain Trench landscape – the property ranges from native grasslands and open Douglas-fir forests to a wetland complex of marsh and riparian habitat.
Multiple wildlife species flourish in this area, including elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, cougar, black bear and grizzly bear. Several endangered species have been documented on the ranch, including badger, prairie falcon and dry-land sedge.
Marion Creek Benchlands wetland
Marion Creek Benchlands and the surrounding properties all support part of the Marion Creek wetland complex. The wetland areas on the property include pockets of cattail marsh, which is a provincially threatened plant community. The wetlands provide important habitat for migratory birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Walking on Marion Creek Benchlands
The conservation of Marion Creek Benchlands will directly connect two existing conservation properties and will bring the total protected area on the west side of Columbia Lake to more than 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares).
Wild land corridors are vitally important in the Rocky Mountain Trench to support the movement of wide-ranging animals such as grizzly bear, elk and cougar.
Partners in Conservation
This project was made possible by the generous support of many individuals, as well as the following organizations: