Century old ranch protected by Nature Conservancy

For more than a century the Philip family has worked the 640-acre homestead that has become one of the oldest family ranches in the province.

That legacy was protected Monday with the creation of a the Warner Philip Conservation Area - a partnership between the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Philip family which guarantees the land will go undeveloped.

"The land can never be developed nor be subdivided and, if sold, it can only be sold as one block," said Barb Pryce, the Nature Conservancy of Canada's program manager.

Pryce called the project a legacy piece, which landowner Connie Philip, 86, donated as a conservation covenant to protect the land tended to by her husband, Warner Philip, who's father settled on the site in 1909.

The family's careful stewardship of the natural values of the land has left the property a vital and flourishing haven for all species, she said.

"Warner loved the land. He was very observant of the plants and the land," said Pryce, adding Connie wanted to honour Philip's legacy and the love she had for her husband.

Connie said the ranch meant everything to Philip.

"I know that Warner would appreciate the land staying as it is, rather than being settled, and that is also the way I feel," she said in a statement.

Philip died in 2005 at the age of 84. He was inducted into the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2009.

The conservation area protects a number of sensitive plant communities, including ponderosa pine woodlands, wetlands, middle and upper grasslands and older Douglas fir forests, said Pryce.

The land lies within the Douglas Lake Plateau Canadian Important Bird Area, which Pryce noted as the most important area in B.C. for migratory birds.

"It's very important for conservation purposes," she said.

She noted Philip Ranch is still privately owned and the partnership took three years to complete.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada works to protect the country's natural areas and the species they sustain. For more information visit natureconservancy.ca.

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