Governments of Canada and British Columbia invest in expansion of Darkwoods Conservation Area

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

Darkwoods and Next Creek are located along Kootenay Lake, between Nelson and Creston.

Darkwoods and Next Creek are located along Kootenay Lake, between Nelson and Creston. — Photo courtesy Nature Conservancy of Canada/Bruce Kirkby

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is pleased to recognize significant contributions by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia to support habitat conservation in the Canadian Rockies.

The investments announced today total $14.65 million ($7 million from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and $7.65 million from the Province of British Columbia). The funds will support the addition of 7,900 hectares (19,500 acres) to the Darkwoods Conservation Area in southeastern BC. This funding will help to expand Darkwoods by 14 per cent and bring essential habitat for dozens of species at risk under conservation management. It will enhance protection within the world’s only inland temperate rainforest.

The Darkwoods expansion will conserve lands in the Next Creek watershed. The watershed is nestled in the heart of the Darkwoods conservation area but remains an unprotected private forestry property. Darkwoods and Next Creek are located along Kootenay Lake, between Nelson and Creston. The threat of industrial or recreational activity makes the acquisition of this area in the Next Creek Watershed NCC’s highest conservation priority in BC.

Darkwoods provides essential habitat for close to 40 confirmed species at risk, including grizzly bear, wolverine, peregrine falcon, mountain caribou and whitebark pine.

The Darkwoods expansion is part of NCC’s initiative to raise and invest at least $25 million to significantly expand its conservation work in the Canadian Rockies region. NCC is a national land trust. It aims to acquire more land for conservation, undertake restoration of high priority degraded sites and work with partners to protect natural areas and the species and ecological systems they contain.

To learn more and to donate, go to natureconservancy.ca/darkwoods.

NCC will be presenting about the Next Creek watershed and Darkwoods tonight in Victoria at NatureTalks: Grizzly Tales. The presentation is being held at St Ann’s Academy and is free with registration. For information go to natureconservancy.ca/bcevents.

Quotes

“There has never been a more important time to invest in the natural areas that sustain us all. We are grateful to the Governments of Canada and British Columbia for their bold commitments to the expansion of the Darkwoods Conservation Area. The investment kick-starts our work in the Next Creek watershed, and is a catalyst for conservation of global significance.” ~ John Lounds, president and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“Conserving the Next Creek watershed and expanding Darkwoods is an incredible opportunity to fulfill a conservation vision that started over a decade ago. The time to act is now, while we have the chance to bring Next Creek into this internationally significant conservation network.” ~ Nancy Newhouse, BC regional vice-president, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s efforts to purchase and then manage lands for conservation have been, and remain, an integral component of re-establishing connectivity in grizzly bear habitat  This is leading to the successful increase in their conservation status in parts of southeastern BC, including the recovery of a threatened population [of bears]. The cooperation between NCC and grizzly bear research scientists has allowed the use of accurate conservation science to be applied where it will do the most benefit.” ~ Dr. Michael Proctor, Canadian researcher, Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project

“Canadians love nature. By doubling Canada’s amount of protected nature, we are safeguarding our natural heritage, growing a clean economy and reducing pollution. This important expansion of Darkwoods will not only protect nature and the wildlife that depend on it, it will also increase conservation measures for the only inland temperate rainforest in the entire world. By working together, we can ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.” ~ Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada 

“The British Columbia government is proud to support the important work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The joint investment in the Next Creek watershed property between NCC and the provincial and federal governments reflects the shared commitment to preserve lands essential to protect threatened species. B.C. has already achieved our targets as part of the national land conservation objective, but today’s investment shows we will continue to make meaningful contributions to conservation and biodiversity.” ~ George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Facts

  • Conserving wildlife corridors in the Canadian Rockies is essential to the long-term viability of wide-ranging mammals such as grizzly and black bear, elk, wolverine, caribou, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
  • Expanding Darkwoods by acquiring the Next Creek property is an opportunity to undertake a substantial restoration plan for previously logged portions of the Next Creek property.
  • The conservation of the Next Creek watershed will grow a network of conservation lands in the South Selkirk Mountains to more than 1,100 km².
  • This network is anchored by NCC’s Darkwoods Conservation Area, which was established in 2008. At the time, Darkwoods made history as the single largest private acquisition for conservation in Canadian history.
  • The unique forests found here, sometimes known as snow forests because they receive most of their moisture from the snowpack, harbour the highest tree diversity in BC.
  • Darkwoods and Next Creek feed 17 watersheds and more than 120 alpine lakes. The freshwater systems are important for the overall health of fisheries in Kootenay Lake.
  • Darkwoods and Next Creek are located in the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa, the Syilx and the Sinixt peoples.
  • NCC’s $25 million Canadian Rockies conservation initiative is part of the organization’s $750 million Landmark Campaign, the largest charitable investment in conservation in Canadian history. The Landmark Campaign will help us to conserve more land faster, connect more Canadians to nature and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders

About

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.

The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.

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