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The Purcells

View the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Photo Gallery

View the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Photo Gallery

The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park encompasses almost 200,000 ha (500,000 acres) of pristine wilderness. This represents one of the largest intact ecosystems still remaining in the Kootenay region of southeastern BC. The park encompasses the core of the rugged Purcell Mountains as well as several lush rainforest and rainshadow forested valley bottoms. It is traversed by the historic 61 km long Earl Grey Trail. As well, the area contains trails and evidence of its use as an important traditional trade and travel route for the Shuswap people. It also contains critical habitat for mountain caribou, whitetail deer, black and grizzly bears, mountain goats, pileated woodpecker, and cutthroat trout.

The Purcell Wilderness was the first large-scale wilderness area protected by citizen action anywhere in Canada. In the early 1970s, very early in BC's environmental era, a number of environmental organizations came together under the leadership of Kootenay resident Art Twomey and conservationist Ric Careless in a campaign to protect the Purcell area. Their efforts paid off, and in 1974, 130,000 ha (25,000 acres) of the Purcells were set aside as a Wilderness Conservancy - the first time this classification had been used for a BC protected area.

In 1995, Spaces for Nature worked alongside local conservation group Wildsight to have the area enlarged to its current size and reclassified as a Provincial Park. The Purcell Conservancy is now the largest protected wilderness in southern BC.

Map of the Purcell Wilderness Conservany and Region
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