The South Okanagan with its rolling native grasslands is a ‘hot spot’ for biodiversity, and is one of the most at risk regions in Canada. The natural areas within this region have been extensively fragmented and degraded by human development and agriculture. In order for biodiversity to flourish alongside human culture, natural areas must be preserved, protected, and connected so wildlife have the resources to fulfill their needs, like feeding, migrating and breeding.

We need your help to conserve and maintain Skaha Lake Eastside – Lot 1 and expand The Nature Trust of BC’s Skaha Lake Eastside Property Complex, located south of Penticton in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen. Lot 1 adds 72.2 acres (29.2 hectares) to the Nature Trust’s conservation complex, which is adjacent to the McTaggart-Cowan/nsək’łniw’t Wildlife Management Area. The 6,491-hectare Wildlife Management Area was established primarily for the protection and management of Bighorn Sheep habitat and Skaha Lake Eastside – Lot 1 will add important foraging, lambing and escape terrain for this iconic species.

Bighorn Sheep depend on a variety of habitats to maintain a healthy herd. In the summer they graze in higher elevation grasslands and open forest, near rocky bluffs. In fall they descend to lower elevations for mating and spend the winter in low elevation grasslands, mature open ponderosa pine or Douglas-fir forest, rocky bluffs, and dry, open rocky areas. Their winter habitat must include rocky ‘escape terrain’ – cliffs, slopes or dense forest patches – to avoid predators. Spring is lambing season and they return to the same birthing places each year, on steep rocky bluffs and cliffs near grasslands.

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Bighorn Sheep are a Blue-listed species (of special concern) in BC. A variety of human pressures have reduced their distribution in the Okanagan region. Loss and fragmentation of their grassland habitat along with forest encroachment, and increased human activity in rocky habitat during lambing season (such as rock climbing) , has disrupted their lifecycle and reduced populations. They are also susceptible to diseases carried by domestic sheep and goats.

Skaha Lake Eastside – Lot 1 will protect essential Bighorn Sheep habitat within their winter and summer range, including open low-lying grasslands ideal for grazing, and steep rocky terrain that provides protection and escape routes from predators.

Left to right: Canyon Wren, Bighorn Sheep, Western Skink

Protecting this habitat for Bighorn Sheep will also protect habitat for a variety of other at-risk species that are known to occur on the property or in adjacent habitat, including four species listed under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act: Pallid Bat, American Badger, Lewis’s Woodpecker and Western Screech Owl.

The mixture of sensitive ecosystems on this property, including grassland, forest and rocky terrain provide contiguous habitat for all the life requirements of several federally listed at-risk reptiles occurring on or near the property as well. These include the endangered Desert Nightsnake and the threatened Western Rattlesnake and Gopher Snake (deserticola subsp.)

Skaha Lake Eastside – Lot 1 ranks very high in its ecological value. Most of this property is undisturbed by development, and provides habitat for many rare and endangered species. We need your help to purchase this property and conserve it for these generations to come.

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