The Bella Island purchase was done in conjunction with the Mahone Islands Conservation Association which contributed $250,000 to the initiative, leaving the provincial share at $550,000. “Bella Island is one of the few remaining privately-owned islands in Mahone Bay in its natural state, a gem that must be protected,” said John Meisner, chair of the association. “The association truly appreciates the long-term support the province has shown for this type of project.” In addition, just over 1,100 acres of surplus forest lands were purchased from Looke CanCut Ltd. and D. B. Logging Ltd. in Annapolis County and 300 acres from Donald MacIsaac in Antigonish County. All three parcels totaled $663,400. The land is surplus to the companies and selling it will allow them to reinvest in their businesses. These purchases wrap up the $20-million Forestry Transition Program, which ran between 2008-09 and 2013-14. The province also accepted a donation of 54 acres of land in Askilton, Inverness Co. from Donald and Brenda Theakston, of Valley, Colchester Co. “We hope this gift of land will expand the River Inhabitants Nature Reserve and preserve the bog which has always been important to our family,” said Mr. and Ms. Theakston. The property was appraised at $24,000 and is part of an important habitat for Atlantic salmon, brook trout and the wood turtle, which was declared a threatened species this year. The province is gaining additional Crown land to protect species at risk, support forestry needs and increase a provincial park. “Government has an important role to play in protecting our rich natural resources, and increasing our Crown land base helps us accomplish this,” said acting Natural Resources Minister Andrew Younger. “We are paying a fair price, supported by independent evaluations, and are also fortunate to benefit from a land donation.” The purchases include: Bella Island in Mahone Bay, home to the piping plover and common loon, and a habitat for migratory birds, for $800,000 more land on McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour, bringing provincial ownership up to 94 per cent, for $111,555 well-managed forest land in Guysborough County that is needed for fibre in eastern Nova Scotia, for $559,255.