On October 29, 2015, the Nature Conservancy of Canada sold four properties, including the Similkameen River Pines, to the Province of B.C. to extend existing parks and protected areas. Read the full press release.
The Similkameen River Pines property was TLC’s first project in the Okanagan-Similkameen area of BC’s southern interior. This 113 acre property, acquired in 2000, is located adjacent to the Canada-US border on the east side of the Similkameen River. The property is also adjacent to the Chopaka West portion of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area (which forms the eastern boundary of the property).
The Similkameen River Pines property contains a wide array of habitat types because of its proximity to the Similkameen River and its varied topography. A narrow band of floodplain and riverside (riparian) habitats are found adjacent to the river. Here, barren, shifting river bars alternate with cottonwood and red-osier dogwood cover.
Upslope from these habitats is an elevated terrace of old river sediments and colluviual materials. The terrace mainly comprises the Ponderosa pine-bunchgrass plant community, with an under story of Saskatoon berry, sumac, rabbit bush, and a diversity of bunchgrasses and wildflowers, including bitterroot and mariposa lily. Several large, old-growth Ponderosa pines are distinctive features within this habitat area. Elsewhere the terrace supports open and dense stands of second growth pine and Interior Douglas-fir. Portions of the terrace are wetter and support a wider mix of grasses, shrubs and low deciduous trees, mainly willows and cottonwood. Further away from the river, the terrace gives way to steep, rocky slopes, scree and talus piles of angular rocks. Here, vegetation varies from scattered Ponderosa pine and bunchgrass, to non-vegetated rock.
It is also home to a number of at-risk species, including the Canyon Wren, Gopher Snake, Northern
Pacific Rattlesnake, and several species of bats. More commonly seen species include Great-horned owls, bald eagles, flickers, mule deer, black bear, cougar, and coyote.
Access to the property is via an easement across private land. Because of this, access by the general public is not permitted.