A place worth preserving

Russell Wangersky
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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 rwanger@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: Canada, Long Range Mountains, United States Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Frank Blackwood
    March 09, 2011 - 13:28

    It's amazing that nature in its best form need not have colour! Great place which may not catch the eye of a politician that thinks only of oil and big bucks for the government, maybe himself also.

  • Fred from Brigus
    December 24, 2010 - 06:33

    Who put the price tag of $800,000.00 on this piece of land. It's quite obvious that the Crown gave away this piece of land 100 years ago as it was of no earthly value and was never put to any use by it's owners and now one would expect the tax payers to fork over $100,000.00 in addition to the $700,000.00 put up by other parties. These owners should be ashame of themselves for price gouging. The offer should be withdrawn and it will be another 100 years before anyone will be interested in buying this land. In the meantime the Gov should deem this land an Heritage site to protect it from any future development. Then the 3 brothers would wish the had not been so greedy as they have not contributed one iota to this property. It is my understanding that one had to put property to use to qualify for the deed from the Crown. This land should revert to the crown and the people of NL.

    • ConserveNL
      December 24, 2010 - 12:00

      Fun to read posts by people who know little about a subject. Here's some facts. 1. Value was determined by an appraisal conducted by a registered appraiser. 2. Land was originally granted to three business partners for sheep farming. 3. Government tried to establish an Ecological Reserve over the property but couldn't come to an agreement on price so the reserve was deregulated. 4. How would you feel if government simply expropriated your private property? This is a good thing - the land will be protected forever. 100 years from now people will wonder why it wasn't done sooner.

  • William Daniels
    December 22, 2010 - 08:55

    charlene johnson has been the worst thing that has ever happened to the environment in newfoundland. she has done nothing but pander to big business at the expense of the environment. tar and feathers comes to mind for this minister.

  • Brad
    December 21, 2010 - 10:59

    It doesn't surprise me one bit that the NL government didn't contribute because they show no respect for the value of our natural environment. If they can't make a buck out of it, they aren't buying in. They would rather see a mining company come in and use this area as a tailings pond, as that would provide a few jobs for a couple of decades, and a few tax dollars. The business of NL isn't into conservation, only destruction. Charlene Johnson is one of the youngest ministers to be elected in NL, and her inexperience is destroying 1 unique area after another in just a few short years.