PENTICTON - Wildlife habitat in the Okanagan is better protected today following the establishment of the McTaggart-Cowan/nsek'tniw't Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Today's announcement by Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson creates the McTaggart-Cowan/nsek'tniw't WMA on the east side of Skaha Lake. The new Wildlife Management Area conserves 6,491 hectares of habitat, including 6,375 hectares Crown land and 116 hectares of property owned by The Nature Trust of BC. The area is important for protecting species at risk and their habitats in the South Okanagan, most notably, California bighorn sheep, which use it in a number of important ways including lambing and foraging.
The McTaggart-Cowan/nsek'tniw't WMA has been designated to honour renowned conservationist, the late Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan, and the site was chosen in consultation with his family. McTaggart-Cowan was a zoologist, educator and one of Canada's foremost conservationists.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, McTaggart-Cowan became an acclaimed naturalist and expert in the science of wildlife management. He devoted a lifetime to studying, teaching and conserving the natural resources of British Columbia and elsewhere. He won multiple awards during his distinguished career.
The site for the new WMA is also important to the Penticton Indian Band (a member of the Okanagan Nation Alliance) who have provided a Syilx language name for the site. The word, ns'k'niw't, is roughly translated from the Syilx language as "a gash on the side." The name refers to the portion of the trail used by First Nations winding up and alongside a steep walled canyon south of the Skaha Bluffs for travel, trade, and to access medicine gathering areas.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations works to maintain and restore the province's ecological diversity of fish and wildlife species and their habitats. One way the ministry meets these goals is through the management of the province's various types of conservation lands, including the establishment of WMAs under Section 4 of the Wildlife Act. This designation gives the ministry additional tools to manage the land and associated land uses.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"Wildlife management areas represent a strong tool in protecting critical wildlife habitat. Our government will continue to seek new opportunities like this one to establish or expand this valuable conservation tool."
Chief Jonathon Kruger, Penticton Indian Band -
"I'm encouraged to see that we worked together in a government-to government way to protect this habitat for the priority of wildlife conservation, first and foremost. I would also like to note how proud I am of our traditional ecological knowledge keepers, such as Richard Armstrong for keeping our connection to the land alive though sharing its traditional name - a shared success for all people and our future generations."
Ann Schau, Daughter of Dr. Ian-McTaggart-Cowan -
"Our extended family is very pleased at the announcement of the McTaggart Cowan ns'k'niw't Wildlife Management Area, honouring one of British Columbia's first environmental leaders. I'm sure that my father, Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan, would be delighted as a field biologist and educator that this new WMA will be available for the appreciation and use of future generations in B.C., including his great grandchildren."
Dr. Jasper Lament, CEO, Nature Trust of BC -
"The Nature Trust is proud to work with the Province in establishing the McTaggart-Cowan/ns'k'niw't Wildlife Management Area. Dr. McTaggart-Cowan was a founding director of The Nature Trust of BC and was still a driving force for conservation when The Nature Trust protected 116 hectares of land here in 1989. This Nature Trust property is one of the last remaining low elevation grassland benches on the east side of Skaha Lake and it secures a contiguous corridor of bighorn sheep habitat from lakeshore to high elevation. The new Wildlife Management Area is a fitting tribute to Dr. McTaggart-Cowan's conservation leadership."
- With the addition of McTaggart-Cowan/ ns'k'niw't there are now 26 WMAs in B.C. ranging in size from the 17-hectare Coquitlam River wildlife management area to the 122,500-hectare Todagin WMA in northwestern B.C.
- More than 242,000 hectares in the province now are designated as WMAs.
- Several partners assist the Province on WMAs, including Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Nature Trust of BC, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation also contributes funding to help with designations and for day-to-day management of the sites after they are designated.
For a high-resolution map showing the boundaries of the McTaggart-Cowan/ ns'k'niw't Wildlife Management Area visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/8556782253/in/set-72157632992060409/
To hear an audio file with the correct pronunciation of ns'k'niw't:http://snd.sc/YeEhUM
For other information about Wildlife Management Areas in British Columbia, visit:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/habitat/conservation-lands/docs/wma_qa_032013.pdf
To learn more about the Nature Trust of BC, visit:www.naturetrust.bc.ca
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations