The BC Parks Land Acquisition Program
From the international biosphere in Clayquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island to B.C.’s unique inland temperate rainforest in the east; from the northern Serengeti that is the Spatsizi Plateau to the northern most reaches of the Great Basin Desert of the southern interior, B.C. has a vast array of terrain and climate conditions. They represent a diversity of habitat and all are in need of on-going support.
Multi-partner conservation programs
BC Parks is about more than enjoying and conserving our natural environment. We also partner with other levels of government, First Nations, conservation organizations and landowners to help manage, protect and enhance a variety of natural areas from the environmentally valuable estuaries and intertidal habitats along B.C.’s rugged coast to the unique diversity of the southern interior to wetlands of the central and northern interior.
Multi-partner conservation programs include a range of conservation-related activities, including land acquisition, management, stewardship and outreach. Some of these include:
Pacific Estuary Conservation Program
The Ministry of Environment has been a participant in the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program (PECP) since shortly after the program’s inception in 1987. Formed by a group of government agencies and non-government organizations in British Columbia, the aim was to better coordinate efforts to protect environmentally valuable estuaries along the rugged B.C. coast. The partners of the PECP include Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Ministry of Environment, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Land Conservancy of Canada and The Nature Trust of British Columbia.
Designed to work with current landowners to find creative ways to secure estuary land for conservation, the PECP is one of the most successful coastal habitat conservation programs in Canada. The PECP is also the main delivery program for land securement and enhancement for the Pacific Coast Joint Venture in B.C. PECP partners have successfully secured thousands of hectares of shoreline and intertidal habitats in many of B.C’s major estuaries. For further information, refer to the Ducks Unlimited Canada website.
South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program
The ministry and its conservation partners are active participants in the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP). The South Okanagan-Similkameen area is home to some of the greatest concentrations of species diversity and species at risk in Canada and is recognized as one of the country's three most endangered natural systems. The dry climates and desert-like habitats of the Okanagan and Similkameen river valleys form the northern tip of the great Great Basin desert. Since the SOSCP was initiated in 2000, over 47 groups have joined together to maintain this unique natural system and the great variety of plant and animal species that exists within it. Strong community support and involvement help create a positive balance between wildlife requirements and human needs and aspirations. The program has focused on a number of key areas, including: applying scientific knowledge; involving the community in conservation; voluntary caring for the land; applying First Nations' knowledge and ecological heritage; assisting in land use decisions; and securing critical habitats. For more information, refer to the SOSCP website.
Kootenay Conservation Program
The Ministry and its conservation partners are active participants in the Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP). KCP is a partnership of over 80 conservation, industry and government organizations dedicated to conserving natural areas for Kootenay communities. The grasslands, dry forests, old growth forests, scattered wetlands and cottonwood habitats create a biodiversity unique in the province. Over 270 species of birds and some of the region’s rarest species such as the badger, northern leopard frog, racer and Swainson’s hawk rely on the Kootenay landscape. KCP's vision is to have landscapes that sustain naturally functioning ecosystems that can in turn support economic and social well being. Networking is used to help find win-win approaches to ecosystem conservation and stewardship on private and adjacent Crown lands. For more information, refer to the KCP website.
Crown Land Securement Partner Program
The partners of the Crown Land Securement Partner Program (CLSPP) share a strong interest in conserving land for its fish and wildlife habitat values. This includes both acquiring private land and securing complementary Crown land. After a successful pilot program initiated in 2006, the CLSPP was formally established in 2009. The five-year program is intended to assist the ministry in making progress towards the designation of new or expanded Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) under the Wildlife Act.
To date, funding and in-kind support for a full-time coordinator of the CLSPP has been provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Pacific Estuary Conservation Program, The Nature Trust of BC, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the BC Trust for Public Lands, Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service) and the Ministry of Environment. The Ministry’s contribution has been primarily through direction for the program (as chair of the Steering Committee) and through involvement in program activities.
Land acquisition partnerships
BC Parks also partners with private individuals, corporations and the non-profit sector to acquire land to be included in parks, protected areas, wildlife management areas or other conservation areas. In the last five years alone, over $13 million in property and donations have gone to increasing B.C.’s parks and protected areas though partnerships.
How does the Land Acquisition Process work?
BC Parks staff in each region of the province identify priority acquisitions and take the lead role in bringing the acquisition to completion.
From the valuation and assessment to negotiating a settlement and ensuring technical requirements are met, BC Parks works collaboratively and in consultation with First Nations, landowners, conservation agencies, local governments and other interested parties to include land in new or existing parks, protected areas, ecological reserves, conservancy or wildlife management areas.
Once the boundaries of the property have been legally mapped and appropriately designated, BC Parks continues to work with the partners to develop or amend a management plan for the area to protect and enhance its recreational and/or habitat conservation values.
Properties can be legally designated under the Wildlife Act, Park Act, Ecological Reserve Act or Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.
Recent acquisition projects
A 2009 BC Parks partnership with The Land Conservancy of BC, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op and an eco-gift from a private landowner made possible the acquisition of 304 hectares of land, valued at 5.25 million, to create the new Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.
Located in B.C.’s southern interior, the Skaha Bluffs is a popular rock-climbing site and home to a variety of distinctive terrain features, including steep cliffs, riparian areas, grassland and open forest, which function together to provide habitat for many provincially or federally listed species at risk, including bighorn sheep, western rattlesnake and western screech owl.
The Valhalla Mile acquisition along the west side of Slocan Lake in the Kootenays resulted in 63 hectares of land being added to the existing Valhalla Provincial Park.
This 1.625-million acquisition was made possible by the province, through BC Parks, with the landowner who made an eco-gift valued at $325,000 and The Land Conservancy, the Columbia Basin Trust, the Valhalla Foundation as well as many other private individuals and organizations.
This addition provided an important buffer between the park boundary and private development and maintained a significant wildlife corridor.
Land acquisition partnerships may involve non-governmental conservation organizations, various levels of government, industry, communities, First Nations, and other interested parties or individuals. Some of the ministry’s recent land acquisition partners include:
|Land trusts and conservation organizations
|• Ducks Unlimited Canada
• The Nature Trust of BC
• Nature Conservancy of Canada
• The Land Conservancy of BC
• Princess Louisa Society
• Marine Parks Forever Society
• Pacific Salmon Foundation
• Hornby Island Conservancy
• Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation
• Living Rivers Trust Fund
|• Capital Regional District
• Metro Vancouver
• District of Pitt Meadows
• Comox-Strathcona Regional District
• Nanaimo Regional District
• Western Forest Products
• Merrill and Ring
The ministry also participates in a number of multi-partner conservation programs that include land acquisition as part of their mandate. For more information, refer to multi-partner conservation programs.
The provincial government accepts land donations if the land will enhance the Parks and Protected Areas system. In exchange for these donations, tax receipts are offered, provided the gifts are not required compensation for a subdivision process. The province also participates in the federal Ecological Gifts Program that offers tax receipts with the ability to offset capital gains.
A donor’s story: the Pelletier family
On February 11, 2011, Denis Pelletier donated 60 acres of land valued at
$475,000 for addition to White Lake Grasslands Protected Area. The land was donated to the Province of B.C. as part of the federal Ecological Gifts Program. As the land was gifted in memory of Denis Pelletier’s late parents, BC Parks installed a “100 for 100” park bench on the newly acquired park land in their honour.
The property is within the Ponderosa Pine Biogeoclimatic Zone, which is one of four zones that are of provincial conservation concern. It is rare, being less than one percent of the provincial land base, and listed by B.C.’s Conservation Data Centre (CDC) as being of special concern due to high losses from residential and agricultural development.
Mr. Pelletier’s generous donation has left a lasting legacy for all of British Columbians.