New conservation records set in North America: Over 455,000 acres of land protected in one month (Aug/08)
In less than 30 days the two largest private conservation land deals ever seen in Canada and the US were signed. The Nature Conservancy Canada announced the largest single private conservation land deal in Canadian history on July 24th when it acquired approximately 550 square kilometers (344 square miles) of land in south-central British Columbia. This follows the June 30th announcement that The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land purchased 1,295 square kilometers (500 square miles) of western Montana forestland.
The land acquired in British Columbia, known as Darkwoods, is situated between the towns of Nelson, Salmo and Creston in the West Kootenays. The former owner, Pluto Darkwoods Forestry Corporation, prioritized ecological integrity and sustainable resource extraction on the property for the past forty years. Although selective logging has been a part of this landscape for decades, the forest has remained remarkably intact. As a result, Darkwoods is a unique gem in a sea of proposed and existing developments in southeast British Columbia.
Darkwoods supports a tremendous range of biologically rich habitats, from old growth forests to rich aquatic ecosystems. It will provide a connective corridor for the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou herd, which numbers just 46 animals, and the resident grizzly bear population numbering 40 to 50 individuals. The entire SelkirkMountainrange, which crosses the US-Canada border, has a population of about 100 grizzlies. Preserving the Darkwoods will have a profound affect on this grizzly population and its required habitat. Although the Darkwoods land deal has been signed, the Nature Conservancy Canada must still raise a balance of several million dollars to complete the purchase. Your support is appreciated as the Nature Conservancy Canada focuses efforts on raising this balance in the coming months.
The former industrial timber lands in Montana were purchased from the Plum Creek Timber Company to prevent potential large scale development for houses and subdivisions. The deal is part of an effort to keep Montana’s working landscapes intact by ensuring these checkerboard land parcels are available for continued, sustainable timber harvest. However, protecting the area’s clean water, and abundant fish and wildlife habitat, while maintaining public access for fishing, hiking, hunting and other recreational pursuits will also be important. The purchased lands will help create contiguous land management in several key linkage areas, thus knitting the larger landscape together. The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Lands are working with local communities, conservationists, scientists, and government agencies to ensure The Montana Legacy Project contributes to healthy communities and healthy wildlife populations for generations to come.
As our wildlands are placed under increasing pressure from development, it becomes exceedingly important to preserve them. Large land deals such as these are expanding the traditional notion of conservation. Private conservation land deals are different from protected national or state parks because they allow conservationists, local communities, government and industry to agree on how to best utilize the land. These deals also allow for more flexible land use than protected parks, thus benefiting communities, wildlife and industry. When we engage conservation actions that link protecting abundant wildlife and community prosperity, we preserve our way of life and our freedom to enjoy the landscapes that we call home. These efforts contribute significantly to landscape based conservation efforts and make a long term difference in preserving the vital habitats and wild spaces that wildlife and rural communities thrive on.
Photo by M. A. Beaucher
Photo by Christian Schadendorf
Photo by Guy Woods