The St. Mary Wycliffe elk herd has been using the land within Kimberley city limits as a calving ground. Bulletin file

Kimberley Council votes for additional protection for elk calving grounds within city limits

The city will not support any recreational trail development in that area

At their regular meeting on Monday, January 25, 2021, Kimberley City Council voted to add their voice to those seeking to protect an elk calving ground that lies within city limits.

Council passed a motion that it would not support any trail development in the 90 hectare parcel, which is part of Canfor’s tenure.

The motion was supported by Emily Chow, Wildlife Biologist for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and by Canfor.

The calving grounds are surrounded by highly used recreation areas, says Coun. Darryl Oakley, who brought the motion to Council.

The parcel of land is north of the Kimberley Nature Park, west of the Nordic Club and south of the Kimberley Alpine Resort.

It was logged in 2004.

What triggered this, Oakley said, was that even before COVID, all these recreation areas were seeing increasing use.

“KAR was becoming busier than ever in the summer, the Nordic Club has 1900 members. This one piece of land offers a quiet place sought after by elk.

“The Canfor biologist saw that. There’s water, springs and ponds that are perfect for elk calves. Elk are extremely sensitive to humans, to mountain bikes, to atvs. The forest ingrowth in this area since 2004 provides cover for them.

“15 to 20 years from now the elk could move on, given change in the forest.”

What this means, Oakley says, is that the western flank of Kimberley is now a protected area, with the Nature Park, the Nordic trails area and now the calving grounds.

“Very few cities in Canada can say they have elk calving grounds within municipal boundaries,” he said.

Canfor retains its tenure and can log the area in the future, but for now, they are not thinning the ingrowth that provides the valuable cover for the elk.

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) parent company of the Kimberley Alpine Resort has also assisted by allowing Moe’s Run to grow in at the bottom, where the entrance and exit to the calving grounds are located.

“They’ve been very helpful,” Oakley said.

He also said that the decision was made not to put up signage or gates, as they would likely just be torn down. Given that the land is within city limits, hunting is not permitted.

“We’re just asking for common sense. Stay out of there. Let that land stay quiet for the animals,” Oakley said.

WATCH: Video captures East Kootenay elk herd on the move

READ: Province to tackle declining elk populations across Kootenays



carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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