Location: BC – Selkirk Mountains west of Kootenay Lake, south of West Arm Provincial Park
Project Type: Acquisition
Summary: In July 2008, Vital Ground announced partnership in the largest single private land conservation acquisition in Canadian history. The effort is lead by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), which has made a commitment to protect 136,000 acres (212 square miles) of remote valleys, mountains and lakes in an area known as Darkwoods in south-central British Columbia. Vital Ground entered into a memorandum of understanding with NCC and provided a grant and other fundraising assistance during 2008-2009.
Darkwoods is situated between the towns of Nelson, Salmo and Creston in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. The previous owners, the Pluto Darkwoods Forestry Corporation, had owned and operated the land since 1967. The property connects a network of protected lands and wilderness management areas to create a vast tract covering more than 250,000 acres-enough for wide-ranging animals such as grizzly bear and caribou to roam freely.
The project cost is more than $125-million, which includes not only the purchase of the land but the
endowment funds needed to ensure Darkwoods will be cared for in generations to come.
Darkwoods supports a tremendous range of biologically rich habitats: rare old-growth forests, sub-alpine meadows, serene valley bottoms, productive creeks and lakefront lands. These habitats are home to 29 provincially-listed species at risk, such as bull trout, red-tailed chipmunk, western screech owl and a streamside orchid called giant helleborine.
Because of its great scale and topographical diversity, Darkwoods offers sensitive plants and animals a chance to adapt in the face of global climate change. Species will be able to migrate to different latitudes or elevations as temperatures fluctuate.