Over $14-million has been granted to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to support the expansion of the Darkwoods Conservation Area.  Located between Creston and Nelson along Kootenay Lake, the area houses close to 40 confirmed species at risk, including mountain caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, and peregrine falcon. It expansion will also enhance protection within the only inland temperate rainforest in the world.

The federal government has contributed $7-million and the Province $7.65-million which will support the addition of 7,900 hectares to Darkwoods. That includes land in the Next Creek watershed – an unprotected private forestry property.

Richard Klafki who is the Program Director with the Canadian Rockies Program explains the significance of the watershed lands, which they were unable to acquire 10 years ago with the Darkwoods Conservation Area.  Due to the threat of industrial or recreational activity, it’s also the NCC’s highest conservation priority in BC.

“This is the hole in the doughnut that was just not available at the time and so the ability to come together now and acquire it will just secure that whole large intact contiguous parcel so that it’ll extend the conservation area right down from the Kootenay Lake up to the […?] land. It takes in with Darkwoods 17 watersheds and 120 lakes.”

With the conservation of the Next Creek watershed, more than 1,100 square kilometers in the South Selkirk Mountains will be included in the network of conservation lands.

Altogether, the NCC looks to raise and invest $20-$25 million to significantly expand its conservation work in the Canadian Rockies region, explains Klafki.

“We’re still fundraising and any contributions are still welcome to secure the deal. But we’re in negotiations with the private land holder and it’s going well and it looks like we’re on target. But we’re always looking to achieve the full funding amount.”

Klafki says projects like this are not only important to preserve wildlife, but also prepare for climate change.

You can learn more and visit the NCC’s website here.