Jumbo Valley to stay wild

Purcell Mountains wilderness to become Indigenous conservation area

For decades now, the Ktunaxa Nation and allies in the local Kootenay and environmental communities have been fighting to stop a gigantic ski resort from being plopped down in the middle of the Purcell Mountains. Now, it's over. They won and Jumbo will stay wild. 

The Ktunaxa Nation and the Province of British Columbia are creating an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in Qat’muk, the Ktunaxa people’s sacred landscape that includes the Jumbo Valley.

The Qat’muk protected area will be much more than just the Jumbo Valley. It will stretch over an anticipated 700 square kilometres of Purcell Mountain wilderness and will include glaciers, rocky peaks, rushing rivers, dense forests and deep mountain valleys spreading out in all directions from Jumbo.

To the south, it will connect with the vast Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, giving grizzly bears and creatures of all kinds an expanse of connected habitat with few equals in Southern Canada.

As one of the only wildlife corridors left for grizzly bears to travel north-south between the United States and Canada, the protection of Qat’muk, a crucial part of the Purcell and Columbia Mountain habitat corridor, is great news for grizzlies across the continent.

Qat’muk is one of only a handful of Indigeneous Protected and Conserved Areas in all of Canada. The recognition of Ktunaxa rights to protect Qat’muk marks another important step forward for the recognition of Indigenous rights to defend their traditional territories in Canada.


Last fall, the Ktunaxa Nation Council 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,” said John Bergenske, conservation director of environmental group Wildsight.


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