Fort Shepherd Conservancy committee outlines reasons for closure

"The Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area is a property with outstanding ecological and historical features."

The Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area is a property with outstanding ecological and historical features.

Running for more than eight kilometres along the west side of the Columbia River, the property is owned by The Land Conservancy, and stewarded by the Fort Shepherd Conservancy committee and the Trail Wildlife Association. The acquisition of this property protects the ecological, historic and recreational integrity of the area.

With the largest intact area of very dry, warm Interior Cedar Hemlock in British Columbia, the Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area is ecologically unique. The dry, rocky slopes contain crevices that shelter endangered or threatened wildlife, including Canyon Wrens, Townsends’s Big-eared Bats and Racers. The area is the main low elevation winter range for ungulates in the Columbia River corridor. Deer, elk and moose travel from higher elevations and heavy snow regions to winter. Here, they can find accessible food sources to survive the harsh winter conditions.

Historically, the property is connected to both the Dewdney Trail and the Hudson’s Bay Company, as the HBC Fort (built in 1858) was a stopping place on the route to the Kootenay Gold Rush. Although the Fort was destroyed by fire in 1872, a cairn remains to mark its location on the site.

Excessive unauthorized use by off-road vehicles has created trails, gullies and eroded land throughout the area, dispersing noxious weed species and disturbing wildlife through human intrusion and noise. As such, The Land Conservancy, working with the steering committee, has made the decision to temporarily close the area until such time as an effective strategy can be developed to prevent off-road motorized use.

We ask that the public support this closure to protect and preserve the biodiversity and ecological values of the Fort Shepherd area.

Fort Shepherd Conservancy Steering Council