News Release: Ashnola Burn Funding Committed

February 1, 2016AshnolaBurn

            The WSSBC is pleased to announce that we have committed $30,000 to the proposed ecosystem restoration (ER) burn in the Ashnola River Valley to benefit California Bighorn Sheep. The funds coming directly from WSSBC’s 2015 Hunt of a Lifetime Raffle.

The Ashnola bighorns have historically been a vibrant mainstay in the South Okanagan, enough so that they have been the source of several successful transplants including Okanagan Mountain Park near Kelowna in 2007, the South Okanagan during the 2000 die-off, the Gilpen Herd in Grand Forks as well as several transplants into the United States. They’ve also supported a limited hunting season for all user groups for many years. Since the early 2000’s wildlife managers have documented a decline of more than 75% in the Ashnola population. Specific causes of the declines are unknown but disease, forest ingrowth, habitat deterioration and predation may all be contributing.

It has been a long process to reach the point of announcing this project and the first match is certainly not lit but the timeline is targeting spring of 2016. The goal of the burn is to rehabilitate key habitat in order to improve lamb recruitment and adult survival. The site provides known travel and foraging sites used by the Ashnola bighorns with few commercial and industrial activities.  Hopefully this burn will help return the site to a grassland ecosystem and Okanagan biologists from the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) are considering this burn to be one of their highest regional priorities.

The proposed ER site is located on the west side of the Ashnola River between Crater and Redbridge Creek. The ER burn will focus on the east aspect, open forested slopes. A detailed map of the proposed area is included for reference. The total size of the proposed site is approximately 600 hectares.

Our funds for this project were a direct result of WSSBC’s 2015 Hunt of a Lifetime Raffle. Looking forward the Board of Directors hopes to build on the success of this raffle program, offering more hunting opportunities and generating more funds for habitat enhancement province wide. We look forward to updating our members with news on this project as the winter progresses.

We would like to acknowledge and extend our thanks to the rest of the stakeholder groups and government ministries involved in this process including the Lower Similkameen First Nations, BC Wildlife Federation, Ashnola Guide Outfitters and BC FLRNO staff from Wildfire Management Branch and the Okanagan Wildlife Branch.

Yours in conservation,
WSSBC Board of Directors