Partnerships allow purchase of key lands

The Basin features innumerable natural and recreational opportunities in many environments: forests, beaches, moun-tains and wetlands. To protect areas like these while meeting local priorities, the Trust helps communities and organizations acquire key pieces of land and will be launching a new land acquisition program this fall.

Since 1998, the Trust has helped preserve over 113,000 hectares of ecologically valuable private land. Some of this has been in the West Kootenay, where the Trust recently supported the purchase of two properties important for their environmental values and use by locals and visitors alike.

A RECREATIONAL AND CONSERVATION AREA CONTINUES

In Crawford Bay, residents had developed a community park and conservation area in coordination with a private landowner. When the owner chose to sell the 185-acre parcel, its future now uncertain, the Trust helped the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) purchase the land, preserving its environment and this valued recreation area.

The new Crawford Bay Regional Park includes three distinct riparian and wetland areas that are home to more than 90 bird species and many plant and wildlife species.

It provides habitat for several species at risk, including the Coeur d’Alene salamander, blotched tiger salamander, western toad, painted turtle and great blue heron. Crawford and Beaver creeks, located on the property, are habitats for bull trout, kokanee and endangered white sturgeon.

These environmental values are closely integrated with recreational opportunities on the property, such as a beach and hiking and biking trails alongside the wetlands maintained by the East Shore Trail and Bike Alliance. The public will have opportunities to help preserve these wetlands, plus will be invited to give input to the RDCK to guide its operations and decision-making for the park.

Stuart Horn, RDCK Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, says, “The purchase will provide a large, water-access recreational asset that the public will be able to enjoy.”

A PARK EXPANDS

Across Kootenay Lake and 12 kilometres south of Nelson, the RDCK also used Trust support to purchase 21.6 hectares, which had been slated for logging, next to the 0.8-hectare Cottonwood Lake Regional Park. This will increase the size of the park, which is used by over 16,000 people each year for activities like swimming, fishing, boating and cross-country skiing and is connected to nearby communities by the Nelson-Salmo Great Northern Trail and the Great Trail.

As with the Crawford Bay purchase, the expansion of the regional park will ensure that current and future generations can enjoy this small part of the Basin’s biological diversity and natural heritage.

“Over the next few years, the RDCK will endeavour to make the park’s nature-based recreation activities more accessible and inclusive,” says RDCK Parks Planner Mark Crowe. “Even more residents will be able to benefit from the land purchase as they continue to discover, value and enjoy Cottonwood Lake and all that it has to offer.”

A bright addition to Darkwoods

Many groups take on the vital task of acquiring important lands. For example, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, with Trust support, recently purchased the previously unprotected Next Creek watershed within the Darkwoods Conservation Area. This increased the area by 14 per cent and brought the network of protected spaces between Nelson and Creston to about 1,100 square kilometres.