Every year, thousands of people visit Valhalla Provincial Park, north of Castlegar. They come to enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and camping on the undeveloped west shore of Slocan Lake, and extraordinary hiking and mountaineering in the forests, glaciers, and peaks of the Valhalla Range.
Valhalla Provincial Park was created 25 years ago, after years of citizen advocacy, and was the first BC Park to protect an entire mountain ecosystem from shoreline to high alpine. In 2009, TLC partnered with the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology & Social Justice and BC Parks to protect the Valhalla Mile.
Protecting this important property wouldn’t have been possible without a considerable donation from the property’s owner, Burkhardt Franz. As part of the effort to protect the property, Mr. Franz donated 20% of the value of the property as a split receipt under the federal Ecological Gifts Program. This donation gave Mr. Franz a charitable tax receipt and aided in the fundraising efforts for the property.
With mature mixed forests, tumbling mountain streams, sandy beaches, and rocky bluffs, the Valhalla Mile is an important wildlife travel corridor within the park. “Grizzly bears come down to the rocky bluffs to feed on glacier lilies in the spring, wolverine and cougar hunt on the property, and other at-risk species such as Great Blue Heron and Townsend’s Big-eared bat are likely present,” says local biologist Wayne McCrory, an internationally respected bear conservation expert. “This property makes an incredible addition to lowland forest protection in BC.”
When Valhalla Provincial Park was created in 1983, it was recognised as a conservation measure of provincial and international significance because it protects low elevation Interior Cedar Hemlock forests, of which so little had ever been protected. Today, the conservation value of protecting this parcel is even higher, as most similar expanses of intact forest have disappeared from the Columbia region.
With the support of hundreds of individual supporters and donors, including BC Trust for Public Lands, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (Columbia Basin), the Valhalla Mile was purchased on March 31, 2009. The Province of BC owns and manages the property as part of the Park, but TLC holds a conservation covenant that provides permanent protection. This is the first time that the Province has allowed a conservation covenant to be registered on lands it owns, so it is a historic event for TLC and the people of BC.