Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Churn Creek Provincial Park





Since the mid-1800’s, the grasslands of British Columbia have suffered a fate similar to the prairies that have been all but completely lost to farming and livestock grazing. The Gang Ranch, north of Churn Creek, was once the world’s largest cattle ranch, spreading over 1.6 million hectares at a time when the 1860’s gold rush drew huge cattle drives north to satisfy the miners’ demand for beef. On grazing land, cattle tend to prefer certain grasses to others and eventually the habitat is lost to wild animals that depend on those particular plants. Ravaged by over-grazing, it takes years for grasslands to recover to their natural state. The purchase of the privately owned Empire Valley Ranch, a historic ranch in the Cariboo, was considered of both provincial and national significance. Considered a critical area from the outset, the ranch’s 11 000 hectares of almost pristine grassland in the centre of the park was finally acquired in 1998. Today, it continues as a working ranch within the park with about 300 head of cattle.



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