Fraser Valley Conservancy summer student Jessica Hemphill holds a rare Oregon forestsnail found on the recently acquired property on McKee Road.

Fraser Valley Conservancy summer student Jessica Hemphill holds a rare Oregon forestsnail found on the recently acquired property on McKee Road.

Eight acres donated to Fraser Valley Conservancy

Local organization receives second-largest donation to date

A section of land on McKee Road will now provide a number of at-risk animal and plant species relief from the threat of development.

The Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) was recently given an eight-acre parcel of land across from Ledgeview Golf and Country Club, making it the second-largest piece of property the conservancy has received, said Joanne Neilson, FVC executive director.

A developer had purchased the land many years earlier, she said, but three creeks running through the property rendered it unusable for development.

Neilson said a minimum of work – some tree planting and elimination of invasive plants such as blackberries – will be required to bring it back to its full potential as a suitable habitat for several species of flora and fauna.

Previously, many donations received have been of “degraded habitat,” said Neilson. The conservancy then had to deal with invasive species, drainage and other issues.

While this area will be maintained for wildlife, it is not a public place, said Neilson.

“The area isn’t suitable for human recreation,” she said, noting the area is boggy for about eight months each year, and is replete with stinging nettles and devil’s club.

Even though humans aren’t encouraged to traipse across the land, it is a home for some notable species at risk.

The mountain beaver is one of the more rare animals that lives on the site, said Neilson. This rodent isn’t truly a beaver, and doesn’t build dams. Rather it crafts burrows near creeks, and primarily eats sword ferns. It is on the federal species at-risk list, which notes species as being either extirpated, endangered, threatened, or a special concern.

The Oregon forest snail is abundant on the property, said Neilson, and the Fraser Valley is one of the few areas where the mollusk can be found. The FVC also believes the Pacific water shrew could occupy the McKee Road property, given Sumas Mountain is at the very northern tip of its range. It has not yet been spotted.

The FVC was established in 1998 as a non-governmental organization and charitable society that seeks to protect land and water for future generations.

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