Conservationists and campers partner to protect Town Island
New agreement brings fundraising campaign one step closer to protecting important habitats in Lake of the Woods
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and BB Camp today announced a conservation partnership agreement that will support the protection of Town Island’s habitats and campers’ traditions long into the future. The two organizations will become neighbours on Town Island once the not-for-profit land conservation organization meets its fundraising target to purchase 82 hectares there next summer.
The two groups have agreed to an ongoing partnership that, once the property is conserved, will provide for education, stewardship and access related to the 82 hectares. The non-exclusive agreement also maintains the public’s access and enjoyment of the property. NCC looks forward to growing relationships with other youth camps and various interest groups around the lake to learn about the needs of the island’s biodiversity.
“We recognize that Town Island is an important part of the Lake of the Woods community and we want to help conserve it for the benefit of nature and people alike, because when nature thrives, people thrive," said Mike Hendren, NCC’s regional vice president for Ontario. “The Nature Conservancy of Canada is excited to learn from BB Camp’s experience and knowledge of the island as we work together to conserve this jewel in Lake of the Woods for future generations.”
“BB Camp is grateful to be partnering with an organization that shares so many of our goals and values. We look forward to a long partnership with the NCC as we work to protect this invaluable property together”, said Leah Leibl, BB Camp’s Board Co-Chair. “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of The Asper Foundation, and our local neighbours on the lake. Thanks to their support, we will be able to continue to steward the island for generations to come,” said Anita Wortzman, BB Camp’s Co-Chair of Fundraising for Town Island.
The fundraising campaign to purchase and care for the Town Island property is ongoing and has already reached a significant portion of its $2.85 million fundraising goal thanks to the commitments of the Lake of the Woods community, including many generous cottagers, campers and Kenora residents. This includes a very generous lead gift of $750,000 from The Asper Foundation, which recognizes the importance of the island to the BB Camp community.
“We are grateful to the NCC and BB Camp for their efforts to preserve Town Island’s natural habitat in perpetuity and are pleased to be able to support their fundraising campaign. The Asper Foundation and the Asper family have been long time supporters of these organizations. We encourage everyone to join the campaign and ensure Town Island remains a pristine wilderness that is available for people, especially young people seeking encounters with nature,” said Gail Asper, O.C., O.M., LL.D., President, The Asper Foundation.
The groups are working hard to meet their fundraising deadline of August 2022. Contributions to the campaign are welcome and those interested in making a gift are encouraged to contact NCC or BB Camp.
There are currently two landowners on Town Island: the City of Kenora and BB Camp. NCC is currently fundraising to buy the City of Kenora’s 82 hectares. People who want to support NCC’s purchase can learn more about the project at natureconservancy.ca/townisland or bbcamp.ca/townisland.
Town Island was identified as a priority in NCC’s conservation plans because of its intact forest, undeveloped shoreline and large size. Given the increasing development pressures in this section of the lake, keeping this property in a natural state for the species that depend on it is critically important.
NCC has been working to conserve land in the Rainy Lake to Lake of the Woods Natural Area since 1997, and currently protects just over 321 hectares here. Less than 10 per cent of this vast natural area is currently under conservation protection.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares, coast to coast to coast. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
BB Camp is an inclusive sleep away Jewish summer camp that has called Town Island home since 1954. At Camp, youth learn and grow through wilderness based experiences where they gain lasting friendships, resilience, independence, and a responsibility to care for the planet. To learn more about BB Camp, visit bbcamp.ca, or search @bbcampkenora on social media.
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