2600 acres of rare native grasslands near Princeton have been conserved thanks to the efforts of The Nature Trust of BC.


Phase III

This 527-acre property is the third and final phase to protect 2600 acres of rare grasslands near Princeton in the Similkameen Valley from development. The first 1,100 acre acquisition was completed in 2019 and the second 966 acre acquisition was completed in 2020.

Phase III is immediately adjacent to the first phase of the Princeton Grasslands Property Complex. Asp Creek runs diagonally through the length of the property. The property includes forest, a riparian corridor and native grasslands. There is a wide pasture area that extends into Princeton Grasslands MapleCross Meadow Phase 1.

To effectively protect species, the best strategy is to secure land on a landscape level. Large areas with mixed habitats support more of the life needs of species that don’t travel very far. Larger areas also mean that the habitat will be more resilient to impacts from the surrounding area.


Grasslands are stunningly beautiful. Wide open vistas connect the land and sky and provide a unique sense of awe and freedom. They also support more threatened and vulnerable species than any other habitat type in the province.

Grasslands cover only 1% of British Columbia, but provide habitat for 30% of the province’s species at risk.

Much is going on below the surface of grasslands. Healthy grasslands include complex underground root systems that filter water and prevent soil erosion. The interplay of the water and this root system build rich, fertile soil. The growth of the native grasses pulls carbon from the air and sequesters the carbon in the root system, cleaning the air and reducing air pollution.

Native grasslands in BC have been impacted by development. Once the native plants have been removed or their valuable root systems destroyed, they are very difficult to restore.

Saving species

The property includes critical habitat for the endangered Williamson’s Sapsucker, a small woodpecker with a yellow breast and red throat. It is estimated that less than 500 adult birds live in Canada and are spread out over 4 separate populations. Sapsuckers get their name from drilling rows of shallow holes in tree bark and licking the sap that flows from these holes. Later the birds return to eat insects that become caught in the sticky residue.

There are many species of birds in these grasslands. Distinctive blue and red Barn Swallows dart through the air catching insects as they fly. Olive-sided Flycatchers perch high in the trees singing. Night brings the hollow, high-pitched hooting of the Western Screech Owl.

An endangered American Badger has been seen on this property. Badgers play a central role in grasslands as a predator of rodents and other small animals. These strong, short-legged animals are fierce predators and expert burrowers. Their underground dens can have many chambers connected with tunnels.

Mule deer and fawn | photo by Brian Hay

In winter, Mule Deer range on the property. Mule Deer have difficulty in deep snow and move down from higher elevations during winter to feed on the leaves, twigs and shrubs of low-lying grasslands. As Spring approaches they move back up to higher elevations following the Spring growth. Mule Deer play a vital role in their ecosystems by providing food for many predators, including Cougars, Bears, and Bobcats.

Each of these species depend on multiple kinds of habitats to live healthy lives and contribute to the ecosystem. Large, protected areas are the best way to ensure these species thrive.

This project has been made possible by Val and Dick Bradshaw, MapleCross, the Lightburn family, Atkinson and Hodgson families and other supporters.