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19th January 2022
The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC) has partnered with Fairmont Hot Springs Resort to expand wetland protection.

Today, the NTBC, one of the province’s leading non-profit land conservation organizations, together with Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, a year-round destination resort located in in the Columbia Valley, announce that 143 acres of ecologically important land located near Fairmont Hot Springs Resort has now been protected from development and will be conserved as a natural wetland.

The property known as The Hoodoos – Columbia Wetlands, is adjacent to The Nature Trust’s Hoodoos Conservation Complex, and a portion of the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area. The purchase of this property from Fairmont Hot Springs Resort by The Nature Trust of BC, adds to a continuous area, over 11,000 acres of relatively undisturbed wetlands, riparian, and grassland habitat.

Wetlands, considered one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, are a natural and effective tool in combating climate change through their ability to act as a sponge, and reduce flooding during heavy rainfall. With the recent and detrimental floods across B.C., it is important now more than ever, to conserve and protect such land. Additionally, they provide food and habitat for many species, including insects, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals.

In addition, part of the property consists of open and native grassland, which covers less than one per cent of B.C.’s land base and provides habitat for more than 30% of B.C.’s species at risk. Grasslands support more threatened and endangered plants and animals than any other habitat type in the province. With the East Kootenay irreversibly losing native grasslands due to urbanization and agriculture, it is crucial we protect the undisturbed grasslands that remain.

The Columbia Wetlands, including the Hoodoos – Columbia Wetlands property, are a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar site) and an area of continental significance to waterfowl under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP).

Numerous species of migratory waterfowl and waterbirds are known to use the Hoodoos – Columbia Wetlands, including the Blue-listed Great Blue Heron and Tundra Swan, and the SARA Special Concern Horned Grebe, along with American Wigeon, Blue-winged, Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Mallard, Northern Pintail and Trumpeter Swan.

The rare wetlands and grasslands of Hoodoos – Columbia Wetlands provide a home to many at-risk and endangered species across the province. Some being the American Badger, Long-billed Curlew, Bank Swallow, and the Vivid Dancer.

Each of these species has a role to play in ensuring the persistence of biodiversity and a healthy planet. Large, protected areas are the best way to ensure biodiversity can flourish undisturbed in perpetuity.

“From mitigating floods and purifying water, to serving as an essential stopping point for food and shelter of migratory birds on their long journeys, The Hoodoos – Columbia Wetlands are of extreme ecological value. It is because of this, The Nature Trust of BC has made it a top priority to protect these wetlands and those that call it home. We are extremely grateful to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and all the funders who made the purchase of this property possible,” stated Jasper Lament, CEO, The Nature Trust of BC.

“Fairmont Hot Springs Resort was pleased to enter this valuable partnership with The Nature Trust of BC. Protecting the wetlands preserves the natural habitat of our community, which we are dedicated to supporting now and in the future,” said Vivek Sharma, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort CEO.

Chris Bosman, Kootenay Conservation Land Manager added: “Wetlands are considered one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and as you stand along the west bank of the mighty Columbia River looking downstream (north), you can see why this property is worth protecting. The expansive riparian floodplain and wetlands of the property stretch out in front of you and are filled with the sound of songbirds and waterfowl. We are delighted to be working with Fairmont Hot Springs Resort to conserve this biodiversity hotspot for future generations.”

Financial support for the conservation of this property has been provided by the Government of Canada’s Nature Smart Climate Solution Fund, East Kootenay Wildlife Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. This project has also been made possible by Pan American Silver, Grayross Foundation, Canal Flats Wilderness Club, the Lightburn Family, and many other donors.