The Ktunaxa Nation Council has received approval from Environment and Climate Change Canada for funding to develop an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area, up to 211,045 hectares, in the Qat’muk area of the central Purcell Mountain range.
“After nearly 30 years of determined efforts to keep Jumbo wild by the Ktunaxa Nation and people from across the Kootenays—and around the world—we can celebrate this major step toward legal recognition of Qat’muk,” shares Wildsight’s Conservation Director, John Bergenske.
The Ktunaxa Nation will receive $16.1 million over four years from the Government of Canada to map and assess cultural and biodiversity values, develop protected area boundaries, and more—with activities spanning from the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy in the south to Bugaboo Provincial Park in the north. The funding is conditional on negotiating the project details and signing a contribution agreement.
“The development of a Ktunaxa Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in the central Purcell Mountains is a momentous success and critical step in protecting the plants and animals that call this special place home,” states Bergenske.
Jumbo Valley is a vital part of one of North America’s most important wildlife corridors and is critical grizzly habitat. The mountain ecosystems support habitat for close to 300 at risk species, include the headwaters of important watersheds, and contain old growth ecosystems. For the Ktunaxa people, Qat’muk (Jumbo) is a sacred and spiritual place, home to the grizzly bear spirit.
Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas are lands and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in managing, protecting and conserving ecosystems through indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems.
“We can now start to imagine a future where wildlife can freely and safely roam, where water runs clean and clear from the mountains to surrounding communities, and where the ecological and cultural integrity of the wild Purcells remains intact for future generations,” shares Bergenske. “We celebrate this fantastic news, and Wildsight will continue our work to maintain wildlife and biodiversity of the entire Purcell ecosystem.”