Big land grant will ensure public access to Skaha Bluffs



    MEC's support will let climbers and others into popular area

    VANCOUVER, April 10 /CNW/ - Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) today
announced a $250,000 grant - the largest land acquisition grant in the outdoor
retailer's history - towards The Land Conservancy's Skaha Bluffs campaign.
Skaha Bluffs is part of a rare desert ecosystem near Penticton, BC that is
also one of Canada's premiere climbing destinations.
    "Skaha Bluffs is a jewel of Canadian ecology and a place of important
recreational value - it epitomizes what MEC stands for," said MEC CEO Peter
Robinson. "Helping to guarantee public access to it through our $250,000 grant
today is a big step towards ensuring that the Bluffs remain accessible
forever."
    MEC's grant will go towards the purchase of a piece of privately held
land, sub-lot 18, which will provide a new permanent point of access to Skaha
Bluffs. The deal must be completed by June 30, 2007 or sub-lot 18 could be
sold to another party for development purposes; access to the Bluffs would
likely be lost.
    In addition to the land acquisition grant, last week MEC launched a Skaha
Bluffs donation program among its members. The program will see the Co-op
match its members' individual donations, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
    "Partnering with MEC to protect Skaha Bluffs is a natural fit," said Bill
Turner, executive director of The Land Conservancy. "Thanks to MEC's generous
contribution to the campaign and the announcement of their matching donation
campaign, individual gifts can go much further! TLC is overjoyed with the
support of our partners."
    Okanagan College biology professor and climbing enthusiast Howie
Richardson said, "Permanent public access to Skaha Bluffs is essential. MEC's
financial support is not only good news for climbers but for everyone who has
experienced - or has yet to experience - the rugged splendor of Skaha Bluffs."
    Between the land grant and matching donation program, MEC and its members
could furbish upwards of 45 per cent of the $1 million The Land Conservancy
needs to buy the land in question.
    "This is an excellent opportunity for local businesses to show their
support for an important South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen landmark," said
MEC's Robinson. "I woud encourage other businesses to support The Land
Conservancy's Skaha Bluffs campaign."
    The land acquisition grant is being administered by the Vancouver
Foundation, from a $3 million annual fund that MEC established in 2005 with
the community-based philanthropic organization. The Skaha Bluffs grant is the
first of several grants that the Vancouver Foundation will disperse from the
fund over the next three years.
    The climbing community have been working for several years to establish
permanent public access to Skaha Bluffs. Mountain Equipment Co-op and The Land
Conservancy became involved last year in order to bolster local efforts at
securing a viable land purchase.
    MEC's support for Skaha Bluffs comes on the heels of its announcement
last week that it will donate one per cent of total revenue annually to
Canadian conservation and environmental initiatives - an estimated
$2.25 million in 2007.

    MEC is Canada's leading retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment,
providing quality products and services for self-propelled activities like
hiking, climbing and skiing. Established in 1971, MEC has more than
2.5 million members throughout Canada and around the world. Widely recognized
for its commitment to community and sustainability, MEC recently joined One
Percent For The Planet, an alliance of some 500 companies in 20 countries that
annually allocate one per cent of their total revenues towards environmental
initiatives.




For further information:

For further information: Tim Southam, Communications Manager, (604)
707-4480 (Direct), (778) 388-1275 (Cell), tsoutham@mec.ca; Nadia Beaupré,
Communications and Marketing Coordinator, (604) 707-4466, nbeaupre@mec.ca;
Kathleen Gibbard, Manager External Relations, The Land Conservancy, (250)
361-6221 (cell), kgibbard@conservancy.bc.ca

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