Purchase of watershed near Kootenay Lake protects land, species at risk

The 79-square-kilometre Next Creek is between Creston and Nelson

An aerial view of Next Creek in B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Steve Ogle)

An aerial view of Next Creek in B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Steve Ogle)

A watershed between Nelson and Creston that includes a rare inland temperate rainforest has been purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, protecting it from development.

The national land trust says the purchase and protection of the 79-square-kilometre Next Creek watershed was one of its highest conservation priorities in B.C.

The watershed, along the west side of Kootenay Lake, is in the centre of the more than 600-square-kilometre Darkwoods Conservation Area.

Because the watershed was privately owned, the nature conservancy says it, and the surrounding conservation area, faced a threat of intensified or unsustainable industrial or recreational activity.

Acquisition of Next Creek effectively completes the Darkwoods Conservation Area and a network of protected lands covering most of the mountainous region bounded by the lake and Highways 3 and 6 between Nelson, Salmo and Creston.

Close to $20 million was needed to purchase the land and provide for long-term management, with funds coming from private donors, governments and several businesses and foundations.

Darkwoods offers essential habitat for almost 40 confirmed species at risk, including grizzly bear, wolverine, peregrine falcon and mountain caribou, as well as an inland temperate rainforest which is rare because it receives most of its moisture from snow.

The Canadian Press

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