Chainsaws for Bighorns: Crews are on site clearing a wildlife corridor east of Fort Steele. From left are Larry Gravelle

Chainsaws for Bighorns: Crews are on site clearing a wildlife corridor east of Fort Steele. From left are Larry Gravelle

Bighorn corridor almost complete

Work is part of an ongoing habitat enhancement project that is restoring Lakit and Brewery ridges.

  • Oct. 2, 2014 6:00 a.m.

For the Townsman/Bulletin

Last week, the sound of chainsaws echoed through the gully separating Lakit and Brewery ridges. A thinning crew was on site to clear out the smaller trees and open a corridor for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The 100-metre wide, 800-metre long corridor stretches over some very rocky ground between the two ridges, which are visible just east of Fort Steele.

The work is part of an ongoing habitat enhancement project that is restoring both ridges. The thinning crew is from Nupqu Development Corporation, a natural resource management consulting and contracting company owned by the communities of the Ktunaxa Nation.

“We’re glad to be completing this corridor,” said Larry Ingham, FLNRO Project Biologist. “It gives bighorn great sightlines to move between their winter grazing habitat areas.”

Brewery and Lakit ridges, just north of the two-kilometre mark on Wildhorse River Forest Service Road, are key habitat for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk and deer. Both ridges have been treated with mastication (tree removal) and Brewery Ridge was burnt for ecosystem restoration in April, 2014. Lakit Ridge will be burnt in 2015. The burns rejuvenate the site’s bunchgrasses and shrubs, particularly Ceanothus velutinus, a favourite food of elk and other ungulates.

The Trench ER Program is working closely with Nupqu crews, FLNRO and the FWCP to implement the project, which increases habitat values in the Rocky Mountain Trench.

The Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Columbia Basin Trust for this project, as well as that of the Wild Sheep Society of B.C., the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Province of B.C., Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Wildfire Management Branch.