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The Nature Conservancy of Canada has added to its area of protected lands in southeastern British Columbia with the addition of prime grassland and forest.

The not-for-profit land conservation organization says it has acquired 2.6-square kilometres of property south of Canal Flats in the Rocky Mountain Trench.

A statement from the conservancy says the land features native bunchgrass savannah, areas of ponderosa pine, larch and Douglas fir forests and even a small wetland.

Endangered American badgers and a species of woodpecker listed as threatened make their homes in the area along with elk, deer, many species of birds and grizzlies, which are listed as a species of special concern.

Two separate land owners offered their properties and made sizable donations while the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, Columbia Basin Trust and Collings Stevens Family Foundation also helped with the purchase.

These acquisitions connect the conservancy’s Kootenay River Ranch and Griffiths Nature Reserve to create a conservation area covering just over 17 square kilometres.

Richard Klafki, a director with the conservancy, says the organization is grateful for support from its partners and the community to enhance areas of the Rocky Mountain Trench.

“The rolling hills, beautiful bunchgrass and open forest of the Kootenay River Ranch Conservation Area is prime wildlife habitat, especially in the winter for elk and deer,” he says in the statement.

The conservancy plans restoration projects, including further maintenance of the dry, open forest and native grasslands, in order to improve the habitat for all the area’s plants and animals, he says.

The conservancy’s goal is to protect Canada’s most important natural areas and the species they contain.

The organization says it and its partners have helped protect 140,000 square kilometres of land across Canada since 1962.

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