Teck has donated $2 million to help conserve a property on Columbia Lake with cultural and ecological significance.
Announced Monday, the contribution means the Nature Conservancy of Canada has almost reached its $7.2 million goal to secure the 315 acre property and create a stewardship endownment, said John Lounds, president of the Nature Conservancy.
"With Teck's tremendous contribution we are now very close to reaching our goal for conserving Lot 48," Lounds said during the announcement at the St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino. "Together we are taking direct action to ensure the incredible value of Lot 48 will be around for future generations to appreciate."
Teck's president Don Lindsay was also in Cranbrook for the announcement.
"Today's investment to protect Lot 48 is another example of how we are working to fulfil our commitment to sustainability," said Lindsay.
"Working together, we are ensuring the future of this cultural and environmental property."
Kathryn Teneese, Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation, explained the cultural significant of the property on the east side of Columbia Lake.
"It is the foundation of the Ktunaxa Creation Story, and has been used by our people for thousands of years. Lot 48 is a significant piece of the cultural landscape of that area, and the Ktunaxa Nation have continuously supported all efforts to conserve this area for future generations."
Lot 48 has been considered a regional treasure for decades, but moves to protect it didn't begin until 2005 when private owners slated plans to create a golf resort on the land.
To stop the development, the Regional District of East Kootenay tabled a rare motion to downzone the land to an agricultural use only.
The issue has gone back and forth since then, and in 2010 the private owners, who have owned the land since 1966, petitioned the regional district to work with them towards finding a solution that would both protect the land and ease their financial burden.
Since then, Area F Director Wendy Booth has worked closely with the owners, the province, the Ktunaxa and environmental groups to broker a conservation plan.
On Monday, she was overjoyed that the hard work has almost paid off.
"I can't stop smiling. I'm really happy to see this partnership come together," said Booth.
Rob Gay, chair of the RDEK board of directors, said that over the years there have several times the board thought a way to conserve Lot 48 had been found, only to have their hopes dashed.
"It's interesting how things work out for the best," said Gay. "The patience of the RDEK board is very much appreciated."
Lot 48 is located about five kilometres south of Fairmont Hot Springs.
The native grasslands on the east side of Columbia Lake represent the largest connected expanse of prime winter range for deer, elk and other grazing animals in the Columbia Valley, as well as one of the best winter ranges for bighorn sheep in B.C.
Protecting this land will connect over 7,600 hectares of protected land which together will create critical north-south and east-west wildlife corridors.