© Aiden Mahoney/Special to The Telegram
The Grassy Place.
This is a topic that really needs pictures, and the one on this page barely does justice to a particularly special place.
It’s a picture of a block of land known as the Grassy Place, some 4,000 acres in the Long Range Mountains. It’s a block of land far in up the Robinson’s River, a place that the Nature Conservancy of Canada is trying desperately to buy so that it can keep it in its pristine state for generations to come.
The conservancy isn’t saying much about who they want to buy the land from: three brothers jointly own the property, which has been handed down from a land grant more than 100 years old.
The conservancy has raised $700,000 of the $800,000 it needs to buy the land, using money from the government of Canada, from the government of the United States, and also from donations from foundations and individuals.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador was asked to contribute as well, but so far has declined to participate.
The conservancy is looking for the public’s help, trying to collect the remaining funds before the end of February. The sale’s due to close in late March.
Why should we care about a block of land well off the beaten track — arguably close to the middle of nowhere — and that, in all likelihood, the vast majority of us will never visit?
Well, we don’t have a really good record in this province of taking care of the parts of the province we can reach.
If there are trees, we log them. If they’re not fit for sawlogs or pulp, we cut them for domestic firewood. If we can’t reach them, we stomp a woods road in to get to the marketable wood, which we like to call “fibre” just to make it easier to think about it as a product and not as a living tree that has struggled just as hard as we do to get by in a rugged land.
Anyone who spends any time at all in this province’s wild lands knows they are treated with something close to contempt.
If you’ve spent a day in the woods and haven’t come across an abandoned sausage tin or some other garbage, then you’re clearly in a minority.
There are parts of the province where I just don’t go anymore; the bog bike trails through peatbog, the poached or abandoned wildlife, the netted rivers are just too depressing to keep seeing.
This is a very big and wonderful place, and the nature conservancy is doing its best to set aside the largest chunk of private land ever protected on the island.
If you want to help, you can call Doug Ballam or the conservancy staff in St. John’s at 753-5540. Cheques can be mailed to 49-55 Elizabeth Ave., Box 11, St. John’s, A1A 1W8.
Donations can also be made at www.natureconservancy.ca under “Grassy Place.”
If you feel any remorse at all for your treatment of nature in this province or for the treatment you’ve seen, it’s a small price to pay for a big piece of unique land.
Setting foot there just once, for me, is a new goal.
Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.