Darkwoods Conservation Area. Credit: Bruce Kirkby
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%, 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.”
Learn more about the Trust’s efforts to conserve and enhance the natural assets of the region at www.ourtrust.org/environment