Posted by: cherylyoung | May 19, 2012




 The largest private land acquisition for conservation

 in Canadian history will preserve 55,000 hectares of

Interior B.C. rainforest in the Selkirk Mountains 

dubbed “Darkwoods.”

Federal Environment Minister John Baird joined Nature

Conservancy of  Canada president John Lounds Thursday

to jointly announce the deal at a news conference in


“This land is a significant investment in  Canada’s natural

 legacy,” said Baird.


“I have always thought British Columbia is one of the most

beautiful places on the planet and Darkwoods  is a

 treasure in that  crown.”

The area includes 17 watersheds, 50 lakes and a stand of

western red cedar  more than 500 years old.


It is home to 29 species at risk, including  bull trout,

red-tailed chipmunk and western screech owl.

Roughly 140 times the size of Stanley Park, the former

 commercial forest will double the conservation area  in the

 backcountry between Kootenay cities Nelson

and Creston and provide a  sanctuary for wide-ranging

grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, elk and a herd of rare

woodland caribou.

Darkwoods includes nearly 20 kilometres  of lakefront on

 the western shore of Kootenay Lake.


 It lies to the south of West Arm Provincial Park and Midge

Creek wildlife management area.


The land was acquired from Pluto  Darkwoods Forestry Corp.,

 which is owned by the Duke of Wuerttemberg, a wealthy

German who envisioned the  land as a possible refuge in

 hard times.

“The duke bought it as a safe haven for his family in 1967,”

 said Pluto Darkwoods spokesman Christian Schadendorf.


 “It was the height of the Cold War, Russian tanks were rolling

through Prague and it looked like the area was not a safe

 place to stay.”


The duke imported German foresters to manage the area

 in a sustainable way – an idea ahead of its time, said


“The duke decided to sell (because) he is over 70 years  old

now, the Cold War is history and there are increasing risks

 and costs associated with climate change on the property.


“The (mountain pine) beetle infestation has hit us hard . . .

 and there’s way more frequent forest fires occurring,”

 said Schadendorf.

He added the current dismal state of the B.C. forest industry

 was another factor.


Negotiations took three years.


The duke laid down a tough list of conditions for the sale,

 he added.


“No speculators, developers or timber cutters needed to

 apply,” said Schadendorf.


 “We wanted someone who could appreciate and maintain

 the unique beauty of the forest and its wildlife riches.


The sale price is $125 million.


 Some $25 million of that has come from the federal

government’s $225-million Natural Areas Conservation



 Another $65 million has been raised by the Nature

 Conservancy of Canada.



Lounds said the conservancy will try to the raise the

outstanding $35 million from private donors in the

 next year.

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

250-516-7653  cbythesea”






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