Grey wolf (Photo by Gary Kramer, courtesy of USFWS)
The Elk Flathead Natural Area is of global conservation significance. Located in the southeast corner of British Columbia, the Elk Valley and Flathead River Valley form a critical north-south corridor for animal migration. The high-elevation grasslands and low-elevation floodplains host black cottonwood trees that are more than 400 years old, and a network of rivers, streams and lakes with high water quality.
Compared to other areas in the region, the habitats in the Elk Flathead area retain high ecological integrity, with a full complement of native predators supported by smaller mammals. Wide-ranging species such as grizzly bear, grey wolf, wolverine and Canada lynx depend on corridors like the Elk Flathead to maintain healthy and viable populations.
Incompatible logging and resource development pose significant threats to the area, and recreational and residential development in region has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. Wildlife corridors are being lost and degraded from the intensification of human use. Other pressures include invasive plants and fire suppression.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) began building a network of conservation areas in the Elk Valley in the 1990s, when Shell Canada donated the 22,100-acre (8,940-hectare) Mount Broadwood to NCC. This still stands as the largest private land donation in Canadian history. NCC expanded its work into the Flathead Valley in 2002 by acquiring one of the only parcels of private land in the entire watershed area. In 2012, NCC assisted the BC government in permanently prohibiting coal mining as well as exploration and development of oil, gas and mineral resources in the BC Flathead.
The Wigwam River on Mt Broadwood, in the Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area. (Photo by Lyle Grisdale)
Ancient Cottonwood Trail
This easy trail near Fernie winds through a grove of the world's oldest-known black cottonwood trees. Learn more>
Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area
Mt. Broadwood forms the heart of the Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area, where many wildlife populations, including elk, grizzly and black bear, wolverine and badger, continue to thrive. Learn more>
Flathead River Valley
The BC Flathead has remained ecologically rich despite the presence of mining tenures throughout the valley over the past century. The potential for mining, oil, gas and coal exploration has long represented the biggest threat to this celebrated wilderness area, but in 2011 NCC helped the BC government ban those harmful practices in the valley. Learn more>