The Nature Trust of BC is looking to expand the protected area around the Keremeos Columns Provincial Park. (Nature Trust of B.C.)

Nature Trust aiming to expand in Keremeos and White Lake

Two purchases have been subject to recent fundraising

The Nature Trust of B.C. is looking to expand the protected area around the Keremeos columns.

A proposed purchase of 194 hectares adjacent to the 20-hectare Keremeos Columns Provincial Park was announced earlier this year.

In order to make the purchase, the Nature Trust was looking to raise $50,000 by April 30.

The park currently occupies an area of 20 hectares, and is surrounded by seven sensitive ecosystems.

The Nature Trust was contacted for an update regarding the state of the fundraising and the purchase, but it did not respond prior to printing.

The area around the park is currently home to a variety of endangered species, including Watson’s cryptantha, an annual white-flowered herb that grows in the sagebrush steppe. The area around the columns is one of only a few known places in B.C. where it grows naturally.

The red-listed Lark Sparrow is largely restricted to the shrub landscape as this is the only habitat type where they nest and breed. Once common in B.C., these birds are now primarily found in undisturbed shrub-steppe grasslands of the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

A large chunk of the 194-acre property is also designated a Critical Habitat for the Western Rattlesnake, and the elusive Western Yellow-bellied Racer has also been spotted within 500 meters of this property.

The Nature Trust also recently passed the May 30 deadline for raising $200,000 towards the purchase of one of the last remaining private parcels of land in the White Lake Basin area.

Ninety-five per cent of the property contains sensitive ecosystems, with habitat for at least two red-listed plants. At least eight endangered species of birds have been sighted in the area, and critical habitat for other species is also found in the area.

Mammals, including Pallid Bat and American Badger, have been seen and there is Critical Habitat for amphibians and reptiles like Western Tiger Salamander, and Great Basin Gopher snake.

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