Darkwoods conservation area to grow

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization

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The Darkwoods Conservation Area will grow, benefitting a variety of habitats and protect ecosystems for current and future generations, thanks to support from Columbia Basin Trust. — Photo courtesy Bruce Kirkby/Columbia Basin Trust

A large tract of protected lands stretches between Nelson and Creston, including areas managed by the Province of British Columbia and the Darkwoods Conservation Area, owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Yet one area within Darkwoods—the Next Creek watershed—remains unprotected. This is about to change, as NCC is one step closer to purchasing the land with $650,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust.

Once the purchase of the Next Creek area is complete, it will increase the overall size of Darkwoods by 14 per cent, to nearly 630 square kilometres. Combined with the other protected lands between Nelson and Creston, the network of conservation lands and protected areas will total about 1,100 square kilometres. Conserving large tracts of land with a wide variety of connected habitat types is beneficial for wildlife, as well as water quality, and has other ecological values. In 2008, the Trust and several other organizations helped NCC purchase the Darkwoods Conservation Area. This was the largest private land acquisition for conservation ever undertaken in Canada, and still is.

“Securing this land for present and future generations of Basin residents will protect its current ecosystems, help prevent further deterioration and introduce restoration and enhancement,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “This will have significant benefits for many species, including species of concern like whitebark pine, grizzly bear and wolverine.”

The Darkwoods expansion project is part of a $25-million initiative to increase NCC’s conservation impact in the Canadian Rockies region. Recently the governments of Canada and BC announced a contribution of $14.65 million to this initiative, which will support the acquisition of the Next Creek area in Darkwoods. NCC is actively fundraising to fulfill its goal and complete the expansion of Darkwoods.

“Conserving the Next Creek watershed and expanding Darkwoods represents the fulfillment of a conservation vision that started over a decade ago,” said Nancy Newhouse, BC Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We are grateful for the continued support of Columbia Basin Trust. Their clear commitment to conservation has helped to make a real, on-the-ground difference to the people, wildlife and ecosystems of the Columbia Basin region.”

Since 1998, the Trust has helped land trusts secure over 1,000 square kilometres (105,892 hectares) of land for ecological conservation purposes. Through the Trust’s Environment Strategic Plan and Columbia Basin Management Plan Strategic Priorities, the Trust has committed to strengthening ecosystems. One of the ways the Trust is doing this is by continuing to contribute to land securement for conservation purposes, alongside its Environment Grants and Ecosystem Enhancement programs. Learn more about the Trust’s efforts to conserve and enhance the natural assets of the region at ourtrust.org/environment.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than one quarter of that area in British Columbia.

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