SPARWOOD, British Columbia (AP) — Canadian mining giant Teck Resources has announced will spend $18.5 million ($19 million Canadian) to buy nearly 28 square miles of land in southeast British Columbia for conservation, the company announced Thursday.
The company says it purchased the land in the Elk and Flathead river valleys from Tembec Inc. to preserve wildlife and fish habitat.
"While not amenable to mining, the lands have the potential to be used for conservation purposes," the company said.
The land includes the Flathead town site, about 17 miles southeast of Sparwood, B.C., an 11.6 square-mile stretch along the Alexander Creek, and another approximately 11.6 square mile area of the Grave Prairie, north of the others.
The purchase is being welcomed by conservation groups that have long advocated for a national park in the area of B.C. directly adjacent to the Waterton-Glacier park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana.
"We're very excited that Teck has made a significant investment to purchase and work towards conserving this important wildlife and fish habitat," said John Bergenske, executive director of the group Wildsight.
Flathead Wild, a coalition of conservation groups in B.C., Alberta and Montana, said the Teck purchase includes critical habitat for trout, bears, birds and lynx.
After a prolonged campaign that reached as high as the White House, the provincial government banned mining and drilling in the Flathead River basin two years ago over concerns for Glacier National Park.
Teck, which operates a lead and zinc smelter in Trail about 185 miles west of the land purchase, was found liable by a Washington state judge last year for the costs of cleaning up decades of pollution in the Columbia River.