Christmas campaign launched to help save salmon and marten

Frank Gale
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Nature Conservancy of Canada biologist Megan Lafferty is seen overlooking Crabbes River in an area hoped to become a protected designation.

ST. FINTAN’S  A Christmas fundraising campaign is underway to help protect a Crabbes River site featuring important natural and cultural history.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada in the province has launched a campaign to acquire a 606-acre site near the town of St. Fintan’s in Bay St. George South.

The not-for-profit organization has reached an agreement with private landowners to purchase the property, which Lanna Campbell, the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s program manager in Newfoundland and Labrador, says is a key priority area for conservation.

Campbell said the Crabbes River site provides habitat for the threatened Newfoundland marten, wild Atlantic salmon and a variety of rare plants. She said the site as it is accessible from the road and is less than three miles from St. Fintan’s.

The Crabbes River site also has interesting historical significance, she said, since the land is currently owned by descendents of Sir William C. Van Horne, who is featured in a famous photo entitled “The Last Spike.” The railway builder oversaw the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was its president, leading the renowned Canadian railway during a time when it linked the nation from coast to coast. The Crabbes River property was sold to Van Horne in 1900 and has been held within the family ever since.

Nature Conservancy of Canada has raised the majority of required project funds but is now launching this public campaign to try and come up with the remaining $39,000, which will be used towards such things as appraisals and legal fees involved with finalizing the land deal.

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference by protecting a part of our heritage, while getting a charitable tax receipt as 2013 is coming to an end,” Campbell said. “People can buy a symbolic acre of land for $40 as a Christmas gift in the name of a friend or loved one.”

The person buying the gift gets a charitable tax receipt. The individual named receives a Nature Conservancy of Canada calendar and another memento from the project.

Campbell said the area is important to those who embrace the outdoors and use it for recreation, including hiking, hunting, and salmon fishing. Those uses would remain under Nature Conservancy of Canada ownership.

With a designated provincial salmon river that runs through the property, supporting the conservancy’s efforts will protect the watershed and in turn help protect the health of salmon and trout and a variety of rare plants that grow along the shoreline.

An early river run, Crabbes River is home to some great salmon pools, populated by large in size return spawners. The vast forest on the property provides habitat for a variety of native plants and animals, including white pine, black bear, and caribou.

Campbell said this a core area for the Newfoundland marten population, which is estimated province-wide at 300-600 individuals. It is a genetically distinct population and one of the rarest animals in the world.   

The abandoned Newfoundland railway bed, now the Newfoundland T’Railway recreational trail, runs along the western property boundary. A reconstructed railway bridge over the Crabbes River offers a spectacular view of the site and its beautiful forest and river habitats.

Once it is protected, Campbell says this site can be used for recreation but will be left as natural as possible. The Nature Conservancy of Canada encourages sustainable recreational use of its properties, while respecting their natural state.

Campbell says anyone interested in making a contribution to this project or those who want more information should contact the Nature Conservancy of Canada Newfoundland and Labrador office at 753-5540 or tol- free at 1-877-231-4400.

They can also visit and donate online can do so, but ensure their contribution is made to the South-West Newfoundland Natural Area, as this is a National website.

Organizations: Canadian Pacific Railway

Geographic location: Crabbes River, Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador South-West Newfoundland Natural Area

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