The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Darkwoods conservation area as seen from the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.

Darkwoods conservation area nurtures Kootenay Lake diversity

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Rising up from the shores of Kootenay Lake, the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Darkwoods conservation area nurtures diverse forests, tumbling creeks and a wealth of native plants and animals. This vast mountain property spans 550 square kilometres of rugged forest lands dotted with dozens of lakes and crowned with snow-capped peaks. Here, a multitude of creatures thrive, including an endangered herd of mountain caribou and a distinct population of grizzly bear.

One of Darkwoods’ unique features is that it contains some of the most diverse forests in British Columbia, including priceless old-growth stands of the vanishing inland temperate rainforest. Because they receive most of their moisture from snow, these “snow forests” are biologically unique, yet we know very little about them. With the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s commitment to science-based conservation, there is an exciting opportunity to expand our understanding about one of the world’s rarest ecosystems.

The forests of Darkwoods can also be celebrated for a wealth of functions they provide to the local communities. The forests help protect water quality in the region by acting as a purifying filter to the water that flows through the property into Kootenay Lake. Darkwoods is also a highly valued part of the wilderness backyard in the Kootenays, especially to those who use it for recreation and resources.

Since purchasing the property in 2008, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has conducted an extensive survey of the land, documenting the plants, animals and natural communities that are found within Darkwoods. The organization has released a management plan for Darkwoods that outlines the long-term activities and stewardship priorities. The plan balances conservation, limited resource use and public recreation so that Darkwoods will remain a natural treasure for now and forever.

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