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Conservation group to buy Lake Superior's largest privately-owned island

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has made a deal to buy Batchewana Island in Lake Superior north of Sault Ste. Marie to protect it from development.

It is Lake Superior's largest privately-owned island and has 27 kilometres of shoreline and more than 2,000 hectares of forests and wetlands.

The agency said it has raised 80 per cent of the $7.2 million needed for the project, including the purchase and care of the land.

The island is home to many important animal species, the conservation group said.

"Gray wolf, black bear, moose and more than 30 provincially-significant bird species prowl, forage, den, nest and fly through the island’s woods. Many fish, including endangered lake sturgeon, spawn in the shallows offshore," Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) said.

"The intact old-growth forests and wetlands that cover the island provide nature-based solutions to slow the pace of climate change by storing carbon, filtering water and supporting biodiversity."

It says the carbon captured on the island is equal to the energy used by more than 500,000 homes annually.

"Because the island’s wetlands are undisturbed, they act as important carbon sinks, sequestering carbon for centuries, benefitting local communities and the world," the news release said.

"As the forest continues to mature, it pulls even more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere."

A section of the island is zoned for recreational development and NCC said there is continued demand for waterfront cottage development.

Batchewana Island in Lake Superior north of Sault Ste. Marie. (Nature Conservancy of Canada)

"The island’s diverse forests of sugar maple, yellow birch, white and black spruce, northern white cedar and other tree species could also be subject to logging activities if the island is not conserved," the group said.

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