Warner Philip Conservation Area
Warner Philip, British Columbia (Photo courtesy of Connie Philip)
South of Kamloops in the rolling native grasslands of the Nicola Valley lies a well-tended expanse of low-lying prairie and woodland-capped hills. This is the Philip Ranch, one of the area's oldest ranching establishments. An impressive mosaic of habitats flourish here, and when passing through you would be certain to see, hear and smell the rich diversity of plants and animals that make use of the property.
Settled in 1909, the Philip Ranch has been actively run by the family ever since. With the passing of Warner Philip in 2005, his wife, Connie, initiated a conservation project with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to honour her husband's legacy and love of the land.
In June 2011, Connie Philip and NCC announced the creation of the Warner Philip Conservation Area, which has been established through a conservation covenant now registered on 260 hectares (640 acres) of the ranch, including the original homestead site. Thanks to the generous donation of this covenant to NCC by Connie Philip, the natural integrity of Warner and Connie's beloved home ranch is protected for now and forever.
Conservation values of the Warner Philip Conservation Area
Numerous grassland species have been documented on the Philip property, including endangered American avocet and two species of special concern: trumpeter swan and sandhill crane. More common but just as important are the great horned owl, moose, lynx and numerous migratory birds that pass through the area.
Bird on fence on Frolek Ranch
The property lies within the Douglas Lake Plateau Canadian Important Bird Area. According to Bird Studies Canada, there is perhaps no other area in the BC Interior that matches the Douglas Plateau in importance for migratory birds.
The property is couched in land held by the Frolek Cattle Company, who has partnered with NCC in the past to protect significant tracts of robust native grasslands. The proposed Warner Philip Conservation Area adds to a growing body of protected native grasslands on working ranches in the area.
NCC's conservation science and planning process have identified that the Philips lands are rich in critical grasslands habitats. These priority natural communities include Ponderosa Pine woodlands and savannah, wetlands and shallow ponds, middle and upper grasslands, and older Douglas-fir forests.
By placing a conservation covenant on the property, NCC and the Philip family have ensured these grasslands and the plants and animals that rely on them will be protected in perpetuity.
History of the Philip Ranch
In 1909 a hard-working, entrepreneurial 19-year-old travelled north from Washington State in search of land to settle. He found what he was looking for in the Thompson Nicola Valley, on the outskirts of the small town of Kamloops. The rolling grasslands of the area promised abundance to those who knew how to treat them well, and one hundred years later the ranch that Peter Philip settled is still in operation.
Peter Philip's son, Warner, took over the ranch in the mid-20th century. In 1950, Warner and Connie married and settled on the ranch, where the two of them raised their large family and built a viable and well-respected ranch. Warner passed away in 2005. Now his son, Peter, runs the family business.
The Warner Philip Conservation Area was made possible by generous financial support from:
- New Gold Inc.
- New Afton Mine
- Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program
- Province of British Columbia
- Kamloops Naturalist Club
- Greygates Foundation
- Patricia Boyle
- Elsie Nykyfork
- and others wishing to remain anonymous