Columbia Lake in the Rocky Mountain Trench, British Columbia (Photo by Steve Short)

Columbia Lake in the Rocky Mountain Trench, British Columbia (Photo by Steve Short)

Rocky Mountain Trench

Grizzly bear (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer/USFWS)

Grizzly bear (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer/USFWS)

The Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Area is located in the southeast corner of British Columbia. The trench itself is a valley so large it is visible from space, extending north from the Canada/U.S. border to the BC/Yukon border. NCC's focal areas include the Columbia Valley Wetlands, which is the longest uninterrupted wetland area in western North America, and the only portion of the Columbia River in an unaltered state.

The wetlands support thousands of migratory waterfowl, threatened amphibians and healthy populations of wide-ranging mammals, including grizzly bear. The area also contains grasslands and open forest. Two of these ecological communities — ponderosa pine and interior Douglas-fir — are among the four most threatened biogeoclimatic zones in the province.


The Rocky Mountain Trench is home to at least 29 nationally endangered species. The past 50 years have seen growing interest in residential development in the area, which is the primary cause of habitat loss for these important creatures. Wildfires also pose significant risk to the endangered landscapes in this area.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) began work in the Rocky Mountain Trench natural area in the 1990s. The bulk of NCC's work in this area is concentrated in the Columbia Valley.

Featured Projects

Wetlands on Columbia Lake - Lot 48 (Photo by NCC)

Wetlands on Columbia Lake - Lot 48 (Photo by NCC)

Columbia Lake - Lot 48

Columbia Lake - Lot 48 is in the Columbia Valley, at the heart of the Trench, and maintains an ecological richness that is quickly being eroded in surrounding areas. Learn more>

Luxor Linkage

Part of a critical migration corridor for wildlife, many wide-ranging animals reside in or pass through this conservation area. Learn more>

Pine Butte Ranch

Located near Cranbrook, this active cattle ranch is celebrated for the exemplary ecological health of its grasslands. Learn more>

SRL-K2 Ranch

The SRL-K2 Conservation Project protects a large expanse of vibrant valley-bottom land near Invermere. NCC worked closely with the ranch's owners to establish the largest conservation covenant in the province. Learn more>

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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada