Grassland areas are of major significance in British Columbia. They represent less than 1% of the provincial land base but support a third of our province’s endangered species. BC grasslands are the northern limit of grasslands centered in Washington and Oregon. Because of this unique location, BC’s grasslands are home to a wide variety of plants and animals found nowhere else in Canada and, in some cases, found nowhere else in North America.
In a land that in summer is hot enough to make even the rocks sweat, where water is a precious and limited commodity, numerous species of birds and animals thrive amongst the tough bunchgrasses and the proudly erect Ponderosa Pines. To live in this landscape, wildlife must be hardy and durable. About 55 critical wildlife species are found here, including: the Prairie Falcon, American Badger, Columbian Ground Squirrel or ‘gopher’, Long Billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl, Short-Eared Owl, Canada Bighorn Sheep and the Rubber Boa.
Grasslands are especially vulnerable to damage and degradation. Native grasses and wildflowers of this ecosystem are not able to compete with many introduced pasture grasses, invasive weeds, over-grazing, and forest encroachment. As well, intensive use by livestock, irrigation and all-terrain vehicles negatively impact on soil.
There is growing recognition that parks and other protected areas do not adequately address the issues of habitat loss and species sustainability. More than 70% of BC’s grasslands are privately owned. In addressing ways of protecting these areas, private interests must be considered.
TLC has been working extensively with Grassland owners throughout the province to identify ways of increasing the protected status of grasslands. Critical support is needed for Grasslands from private landowners. TLC’s work as a land trust is focused on extending tools to private landowners to help them protect their properties for the future. For more information on this, check out the section on Protecting Your Property. TLC deals with landowners in a unique and caring manner to ensure the wishes of conservation-minded property owners remains the top priority. For more information on TLC’s work with our Landowner Contact Program, please click here.