Sage and Sparrow expansion lands (Photo by NCC)

Sage and Sparrow expansion lands (Photo by NCC)

Expanding Sage and Sparrow

South Lake, Sage and Sparrow (Photo by NCC)

South Lake, Sage and Sparrow (Photo by NCC)

With your support, we have a chance to expand one of the most intact and critically important conservation areas in Canada.

Shaped by hot, dry summers and mild winters, the South Okanagan Similkameen region is home to wildlife, plants and ecological communities found nowhere else in Canada. The grasslands and open forests found here are recognized as a critically endangered ecosystem that supports more than a third of the province's species at risk while also facing strong development pressures.

The Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area is located west of Osoyoos along the Canada/U.S. border. This vast expanse of grasslands and Interior Douglas-fir forest provides essential habitat for 62 confirmed species at risk. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is working to add an additional 126 hectares (311 acres) to the conservation area by acquiring two adjacent properties.

Sage and Sparrow Expansion project map (Click to enlarge)

These parcels form the missing link in a north-south conservation corridor that includes both provincial protected areas and NCC's conservation lands. The successful addition of this land to Sage and Sparrow will provide greater security to the multitude of at-risk species that call this sensitive and diverse conservation area home.

This acquisition will also provide public access for nature appreciation in one of the province's most unique landscapes.

Click on map to expand

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Significance

Looking south into the U.S. from Sage and Sparrow (Photo by NCC)

Looking south into the U.S. from Sage and Sparrow (Photo by NCC)

The South Okanagan and Similkameen valleys have long been of conservation interest to governmental and private organizations working to protect this country's natural heritage. These valleys are home to some of the greatest concentrations of species diversity and species at risk in Canada. They also nurture one of the four most endangered ecosystems in Canada.

These narrow grassland valleys connect the Great Basin in Washington State with the interior grasslands in BC's central interior. This unique landscape represents the northern range of a dry grassland ecosystem that supports many plants and animals found nowhere else in Canada. Here on the edge of an ecosystem, species are typically more adaptable to fluctuations in climate. This means protecting ecosystems at the outer limits of their range can play an essential role in supporting adaptation to climate change.

Habitat

The majority of the expansion property is made up of sagebrush steppe and bunchgrass grasslands. Though covering less of the land, the interior Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine forest here contains some of the oldest stands in broader area.

The most significant feature on this land are two large wetlands. Most wildlife use wetlands at some point in their life cycle, yet there are very few wetlands like these in any of the adjoining NCC- or BC Parks-protected lands. Along with riparian areas and ephemeral streams on the property, these aspects provide precious moisture in this arid landscape.

Woodlands of trembling aspen offer nesting habitat for birds as well as cooling shade during temperature extremes for all wildlife. Snakes, gophers and mice make use of the pockets of rugged terrain that are scattered throughout the property. And the variety of terrain, micro-climates and structural diversity add immensely to the conservation value of this property.

Mule deer (Photo by Henry/Flickr-cc)

Mule deer (Photo by Henry/Flickr-cc)

Wildlife

This land is rich in wildlife species, from the common to the rare.

Mammals

  • black bear
  • mule deer
  • bobcat

Birds

  • pied-billed grebe
  • Pied-billed grebe (Photo by Loren Chipman/Flickr-cc)

    Pied-billed grebe (Photo by Loren Chipman/Flickr-cc)

  • American coot
  • blue-winged teal
  • Lewis's woodpecker
  • brewer's sparrow
  • common nighthawk
  • red-winged blackbird
  • yellow-headed blackbird

Amphibians

  • western tiger salamander
  • Western painted turtle suns itself in a wetland (Photo by NCC)

    Western painted turtle suns itself in a wetland (Photo by NCC)

  • long-toed salamander
  • great basin spadefoot
  • western painted turtle

Reptiles

  • western rattlesnake
  • northern rubber boa
  • Great Basin gophersnake


Donate today to help conserve
this important wildlife habitat >



Donor and partner funding has helped the Nature Conservancy of Canada conserve lands and water in British Columbia since 1974. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is consistently recognized as one of this country's top environmental charities, based on our accountability and transparency. (Maclean's Magazine's Best 100 Charities in Canada, Charity Intelligence 4 Star rating.)
The Nature Conservancy of Canada may direct all or a portion of gifts committed to the Sage and Sparrow Expansion project to the Southern Interior Program Area or to the BC Stewardship Endowment Fund. Donations allocated to the Southern Interior Program Area will support the growth and strategic impact of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's work across the program area. Revenue generated by the BC Stewardship Endowment Fund provides for long-term management on all NCC properties across British Columbia, including Sage and Sparrow.

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