A curlew on Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Tim Ennis / NCC)

A curlew on Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Tim Ennis / NCC)

Historic grasslands conserved

October 17, 2014


The Nature Conservancy of Canada acquires significant grassland property near Kamloops

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and its partners are pleased to announce the acquisition of 1,300 acres (525 hectares) of native grassland in BC’s Nicola Valley. The $3.4 million conservation project ensures this habitat will remain intact and undeveloped for migratory birds, rare grassland plants and larger mammals such as moose and mule deer.

The conservation lands represent a portion of Napier Lake Ranch, one of BC’s oldest ranches. Owned by the Jackson family since the 1970s, this ranch is a model of conservation-minded ranching practices that leave the grasslands in robust and vital condition while supporting a viable cattle-grazing operation.

The new conservation area is strategically located along a flyway for many species of birds. It connects to other conservation properties both to the north and south across the Douglas Plateau — a large area designated as an Important Bird Area for its diversity.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada wishes to acknowledge many groups who contributed to this project. They include the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Jackson Family, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, The Sitka Foundation, the Estate of Thomas T. Forbes and many other individuals.


"This project will benefit not only the many rare species that rely on this habitat, but also the people who live in and visit this beautiful valley and want to see it remain ecologically vibrant,” said Barb Pryce, Southern Interior Program Director with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. ”We are delighted that so many people wanted to support the conservation of these lands.”

"Grasslands hold more endangered species than any other climatic zone,” says Agnes Jackson, rancher and owner of Napier Lake Ranch. “Keeping large tracts of land intact is really the only way to protect them. Cows, grouse and burrowing owls can all live together. We should encourage diversity, not monoculture.”

"This landmark project marks another achievement under the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program and Ecological Gifts Program,” said Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification, and Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. “This important investment in the Heritage Grasslands Natural Area of British Columbia highlights our recent commitments announced in the National Conservation Plan. It also reinforces our Government’s commitment to preserve Canada's long-term prosperity by conserving and restoring our lands and waters, and connecting Canadians to our natural and unique spaces."

“These grasslands are key conservation areas under tremendous pressure from development,” says Brian Springinotic, CEO of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. “It has become increasingly important for individuals and organizations to work together to protect these ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them. For HCTF’s part, our quarter-million dollar investment in this project was made possible through the contributions of BC’s anglers, hunters, trappers and guides. Their commitment to conservation has helped secure well over a hundred conservation properties for the benefit of all British Columbians.”


  • The lands are used extensively by hawks and falcons, especially American kestrel and northern harrier.
  • Sharp-tailed grouse leks are found here. Leks, or dancing grounds, are special gathering sites for male grouse where they perform their spring mating dances for the females.
  • Long-billed curlews — rare shorebirds — migrate from their southern wintering grounds to breed in the grasslands of BC, including on the conservation area.
  • The rich waters and marshland vegetation that border a portion of the property make it one of the most attractive locations for waterfowl in the chain of lakes along Highway 5A.
  • This project builds connectivity with the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s other conservation lands in the Heritage Grasslands Natural Area, including the Frolek Ranch covenants and the Warner Philip Conservation Area.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.7 million acres (over 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. More than one quarter of these acres are in British Columbia.

The Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership launched by the Government of Canada in 2007. Led and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the program supports the accelerated pace of conservation of ecologically important private lands across southern Canada. To date, $245 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada, with more than $400 million in matching contributions raised by NCC and its partners to secure our natural heritage. An additional $100 million was announced in May 2014 under the National Conservation Plan for the NCC to continue this program.


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Lesley Marian Neilson
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