The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has acquired 7,900 hectares of rare inland temperate rainforest in the South Selkirk Mountains, encompassing most of the Next Creek watershed.

With the support of a broad range of funders, the national land trust purchased the large tract of private land, situated in the heart of its Darkwoods Conservation Area. The Next Creek watershed is now fully protected within Darkwoods. This acquisition effectively completes the Darkwoods Conservation Area with the addition of this area in the centre of the conservation area since it was first established by NCC in 2008.

“Conserving the Next Creek watershed and expanding the Darkwoods Conservation Area presented an incredible opportunity to fulfill a conservation vision that started over a decade ago,” Nancy Newhouse, B.C. regional vice-president, NCC. “We are so grateful for all of the people and organizations who believed in this vision of creating an internationally significant conservation impact.”

Left unprotected, the Next Creek property threatened the integrity of a vast network of conservation lands that spans over 1,100 square kilometres. The property will become part of Darkwoods, expanding the conservation area by 14 per cent.

NCC raised close to $20 million to acquire the Next Creek watershed lands and to provide for the long-term management of the Darkwoods Conservation Area. Foundational investments were made by the Government of Canada, through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, and the Province of British Columbia. Other significant funding came from Columbia Basin Trust, the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, The Sitka Foundation, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, FortisBC and the McDanel Land Foundation. Generous donations were made by many individuals, notably: Carla Reed, Andrew Beckerman, Michael and Kathy Gallagher, Eric Grace, MGSP Yacht, Peter Roberts and Lynda Griffiths.

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“Our government is proud to work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the federal government and others to further protect the significant ecological values of the Next Creek watershed,” George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We are committed to preserving BC’s natural legacy as Canada’s most biologically diverse province with the highest percentage of protected areas. It is a large part of our identity and we want our kids and grandkids to experience this beautiful, diverse province as we have the fortune to.”

The Darkwoods Conservation Area and Next Creek are located along Kootenay Lake, between Nelson and Creston. The threat of intensified or unsustainable industrial or recreational activity made the acquisition of the Next Creek property NCC’s highest conservation priority in B.C.

Darkwoods provides essential habitat for close to 40 confirmed species at risk, including Species At Risk Act-listed grizzly bear (special concern), wolverine (special concern), peregrine falcon (special concern), mountain caribou (threatened) and whitebark pine (endangered). The forest here is a largely intact example of rare inland temperate rainforest. Sometimes called a snow forest because it receives most of its moisture from snow, this forest type occurs almost nowhere else on the planet.

Image Credit: Steve Ogle

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