The B.C. Parks Foundation has made a major Agassiz-area purchase in the name of conservation.
The foundation purchased 35 hectares of land along the “Heart of the Fraser River” so it can be protected and restored to its natural state.
The purchase includes an 80-kilometre stretch of riverfront along the mighty Fraser between Mission and Hope; “The Heart” sustains the province’s largest single run of spawning salmon. Every other year, millions of pink salmon spawn in the area.
“This is one of the most productive stretches of river on the planet,” stated foundation CEO Andy Day. “It supports close to 30 species of fish and our finest sturgeon habitat as well as being an essential rearing habitat and migration corridor for millions and millions of salmon. Being on the edge of greater Vancouver the development pressure on areas like this is huge.”
Rivers chair Mark Angelo of the Outdoor Recreation Council was thrilled about the news.
“This a critical property in a critical area, and we are all grateful to the B.C. Parks Foundation for its ability to protect places like this, for salmon, wildlife, and British Columbians,” Angelo said in a statement released Tuesday, Dec. 27.
The foundation has already begun collaborating with the Seabird Island First Nations community and plans to work with salmon experts and area volunteers.
“The acquisition of this property for conservation purposes is an important and significant step forward, Angelo stated. “But there’s also a need for action and leadership on the part of governments if we are to protect the broader ‘Heart of the Fraser’ for future generations.”
Angelo added some of the challenges facing the “Heart of the Fraser” include resource extraction, land development, agricultural expansion and climate change.
Public access to the land is off-limits at this time as restoration efforts are underway.
Outside of several species of fish The “Heart of the Fraser” supports a wide variety of animals, including seals, cougars, deer, bald eagles, salamanders and the rare Oregon spotted frog, which has been the subject of local conservation efforts for many years.
“This property has Mission on one side and Hope on the other, and those two words pretty much sum up what we are all about,” Day stated. “For another beautiful and important part of B.C., the restoration and rewilding can now begin. That’s the greatest gift I can think of, because it’s a gift that keeps giving. Protect a place now, and you enjoy it forever.”
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