Pioneering legacy recognized in new conservation area
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announces the creation of a new conservation area in the Robson Valley area of British Columbia, which celebrates the memory of former resident and pioneer Anne Hicks.
The Anne Hicks Conservation Area is a 29-acre (12-hectare) property near Valemount, BC, just west of the Alberta border and Jasper National Park. Located within the McLellan River watershed, the area is rich in riverside forest ecosystems that support the healthy populations of salmon and bull trout that pass through Swift Creek.
The property was bequeathed to NCC by Anne Hicks’s son George in order to honour her long-standing passion for nature and to see the land conserved for future generations. The Anne Hicks Conservation Area becomes the second nature reserve in the Valemount area to honour the Hicks family; the nearby George Hicks Regional Park, named for Anne’s husband, is just downstream.
Funding support to provide for the long-term stewardship of the new conservation area has been provided by Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program. The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of BC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and public stakeholders to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by BC Hydro dams.
Swift Creek is a significant fish-bearing stream that flows into the Fraser River, and the forests of the Anne Hicks Conservation Area play an important role in conserving its vitality. The stands of mature spruce and black cottonwood that line the creek are essential to its health; shade from the trees helps to regulate water temperatures for fish and the tree roots provide stability to the riverbanks, as well as microhabitats for spawning fish.
Anne Hicks and her husband George were long-time residents of the Valemount area, establishing a homestead and raising four children in a log cabin of their own making, remnants of which remain in the forest. The family fostered a life in nature as they fished, mountain-climbed and worked to grow food to last through the winter. Both Anne and George were active community members, each serving as directors on the Yellowhead Highway Association.
NCC will prepare a management plan for the new conservation area that will outline actions to enhance and conserve the property’s important natural values, most notably the riverside forest and shrub habitat that provide important ecological niches for salmon, bull trout and other aquatic species.
The Anne Hicks Conservation Area joins the 980,000 acres of land in BC that have been protected by NCC and its partners since the organization began its work in the province in 1974.
“It was always what my brother George wanted to do. His only child died, and he wanted to make sure the land got left to conservation,” says Roger Hicks. “My mother would be honoured to have a conversation area named after her — she might not believe it. My father had a park up here named after him so we thought it would be good to name something after my mother, who worked as hard or harder.”
“Thanks to the Hicks family this natural area remains a haven for wildlife,” says Richard Klafki, Canadian Rockies Stewardship Coordinator, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proud to partner with this family to create a legacy for future generations.
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 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) coast to coast. More than one quarter of these acres are in BC.
To learn more about our conservation work in BC or to donate, please call 888-404-8428.
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