Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area
Napier Lake Ranch (Photo by Tim Ennis / NCC)
Situated in the heart of the Nicola Valley, Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area encompasses a mosaic of iconic native grassland habitats. Gently rolling hills covered in swaths of tall grasses mask evidence of the abundance of birds and other small animals that flourish here. Easier to spot are the hawks and falcons that circle in the sky above, searching for movement in the waving grasses below. Steep slopes give way to cliffs and rock outcrops, which are a favourite habitat for hibernating snakes and bats. Pockets of trembling aspen woodlands grow in the gullies on the property, providing shade and niche habitat for wildlife.
The Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area occupies an important transition zone from mid-elevation grasslands to Douglas-fir forests, linking a variety of habitats that provide movement corridors for animals shifting between summer and winter ranges.
Male sharp-tailed grouse (Photo by Rick Howie)
The 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 Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area is an exceptional piece of a rare ecosystem complex that is rapidly disappearing from British Columbia.
The Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area supports many iconic grassland species and the fragile habitat on which they depend.
- 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 ranch.
- 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 Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area also enjoys a long history as an active cattle ranch, dating back to 1873. The Jackson family has tended this land since 1974, when Agnes and her late husband Roy purchased the home ranch to pursue their dream of ranching. Now, after more than three decades of working and caring for the land, Agnes is looking to fulfill another dream of her family’s: to protect grasslands from development.
“Grasslands hold more endangered species than any other climatic zone,” says Agnes. “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.”