Music is what makes Chris Wood tick. The 52-year-old bassist is co-founder of The Wood Brothers, a roots band based in Nashville, Tennessee. Together with Chris’s brother Oliver on guitar and Jano Rix on drums and keyboards, the trio records and performs a unique blend of American music inspired by blues, gospel, soul, R&B, jazz, folk and rock & roll.

The Wood Brothers have gained a dedicated following across North America. In 2018, the band received a Grammy nomination for the record One Drop of Truth, released on their own Honey Jar Records label.

The Wood Brothers Band is Donating $1 From Each Ticket Sold in 2022 to Protect Habitat in British Columbia

Life-changing events and a pandemic brought Chris from Nashville to British Columbia (BC) Canada. Now Chris and the band are helping to protect wild places in his new home.

Chris and his wife Laura Matthias live on Pender Island, in the Southern Gulf Islands archipelago, where they run a small farm growing vegetables and hops. Laura is a wildlife biologist who has studied endangered species and helped restore wetlands through her work with various conservation organizations. Her experiences convinced Laura that the best way to help wildlife is to preserve threatened habitat.

Laura had been involved with The Nature Trust of BC, a land trust that protects ecologically significant landscapes throughout the Province, and she liked The Nature Trust’s land acquisition and property management results. Her knowledge and connection led to Chris contacting American Friends of Canadian Conservation to find a way that The Wood Brothers could financially support The Nature Trust’s work.

When asked about what inspired Chris to ask Oliver and Jano to contribute a portion of their ticket sales to advance conservation in Canada, he said, “I’m very influenced by Laura, always interested in and passionate about the environment and what we can do, but for most of my life I was a bit overwhelmed and not sure what kind of action to take. I was wanting to live what I believed, and so that’s kind of what led us here.”

As a result of Chris’ desire to take action, The Wood Brothers is donating one dollar from each ticket sold on their 2022 tour to American Friends to underwrite the work of The Nature Trust. As of the end of August 2022, The Wood Brothers’ contributions have allowed American Friends to grant nearly $19,000 to The Nature Trust to permanently protect endangered coastal wetlands in British Columbia. Every dollar will be matched with three more from The Nature Trust’s Canadian donors and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

Chris is glad that his beloved music can make a difference for the environment. “It took a long time to appreciate that I could do something useful with my platform…I think it’s very important to work across borders to preserve connectivity in terms of habitats and [bird] migration routes. We have to do things for wildlife for its own sake.”

American Friends is delighted to help make Chris’ vision a reality and to have a key role in turning The Wood Brothers’ music into conservation results. Together with The Nature Trust we thank the band and its fans for protecting places for birds and bears.

— Owen Gibbs
The Nature Trust of British Columbia

For years, Peter and Molly Eppig and their family left their home in New Hampshire to spend summers on the Maine coast. In 1993 when their usual vacation rental was unavailable, their boys suggested they find a destination with warmer water for swimming. By this happy quirk of fate, the Eppig family made their way to Prince Edward Island- and yes, Canada’s smallest province is surrounded by sandy beaches with ocean water that is quite tolerable for swimming!

Canada warbler

That visit in 1993 turned out to be the first of many. The Eppigs have returned to the Cable Head neighborhood on the north shore of PEI every year, except 2020 when Covid closed the U.S./Canada border. In 2003 they built a vacation home in the style of a traditional Island farmhouse. Although the boys are grown and not always able to make it to PEI, Molly and Peter still spend as much time as possible on PEI enjoying hiking, beach walking, snorkeling and cycling.

“In 2018 we attended an information session hosted by Island Nature Trust (INT) and American Friends of Canadian Conservation (American Friends) where we learned that American owners of Canadian property can donate ecologically sensitive land and realize tax benefits in the U.S.,” said the Eppigs. “We decided to protect a wooded portion of our property that includes a bog which has been identified as ecologically important. We were so pleased to collaborate with American Friends and Island Nature Trust to ensure conservation of this property in perpetuity and we certainly encourage other American owners of PEI property to look at the American Friends of Canadian Conservation organization to see if there is a fit for their long-term plans.”

Megan Harris, the former Director of Conservation at INT notes that about 3.3% of the private land on the Island is owned by Americans, and most of that acreage is highly-prized coastal property sought for second home construction and for conservation of fragile habitat.

“We were so pleased when we heard from Molly and Peter regarding their intentions for their PEI property,” said Megan. “Most inquiries we receive from U.S. landowners are from family members trying to settle an estate and honour the wishes of their loved ones. But people who inherit property cannot utilize the tax incentives and it is difficult to find a mutually satisfactory conservation approach. We are so inspired that the Eppigs acted on their vision for the land now ­— in this case even during a pandemic!”

Megan recalls that collaborating with American Friends was a positive experience that produced an exciting conservation outcome. “I appreciated their great depth of knowledge on cross-border conservation transactions,” said Megan. “Our advice to other land trusts working on similar projects: never assume that local lawyers and accountants will be familiar with the nuances of this type of donation — for most, it will be a completely new learning adventure!”

INT has designated the land donated by Peter and Molly as the Eppig-Flower Natural Area. It is contiguous with a 495-acre woodland and wetland complex which contains Island Nature Trust’s Perret McKinnon Natural Area — providing excellent connectivity to an existing protected space. The diverse ecosystems and services the natural area provides will be protected forever for the benefit of PEI flora and fauna, Island residents and visitors alike.

Land protection is closely tied to family histories and memories. It’s fabulous when we can celebrate the two together!

— Carol Horne

Carol Horne is on the Board of American Friends. She is the owner of Wordscape Communications in Charlottetown PEI.

Joel and Ada Farber

In 1969, an American couple canoed around the Thousand Islands of Ontario. Ada and Joel Farber had both camped in the Adirondack and Pocono Mountains of New York State when they were children. The Canadian Thousand Islands region had a similar feel, inviting and less populated than New York, so they looked for property to purchase. The Farbers found five parcels along a stretch of the Gananoque River, in an area known as Lost Bay. The land cast a spell over them. One parcel had high cliffs rising from the water which reminded Ada and Joel of the rocky ledge in Heinrich Heine’s famous poem about an enchanting mermaid seductress, so they named it Loralei.

Ted Kaiser

Lost Bay Beaver Pond, Ted Kaiser

Almost fifty years later, the Farbers were trying to figure out how to keep the most cherished of the five parcels in the family. “We wanted to do the right thing for our kids and the land,” recalls Joel. “Our son, Jonathan, had grown up on the land and loved it. He had a particular interest in the large piece we called Wolfgang, which is across the river from our cabin. When we were new to the area, we thought we heard wolves across the river, so we called it Wolfgang as we’re Mozart lovers. Our other son, however had no interest in the properties.” A major obstacle to doing the right thing was the significant Canadian capital gains tax Joel and Ada (or their estate) would owe if they gifted or bequeathed property to their sons.

Ted Kaiser

Snake Island in Lost Bay Lake, Ted Kaiser

Cameron Smith, a local conservation leader from the Kingston Field Naturalists Club, suggested that Ada and Joel reach out to Sandra Tassel of American Friends of Canadian Conservation (American Friends) about how to achieve their two goals. The Farbers had many conversations with Sandy over the course of several years. After she fully understood the family’s needs and finances, Sandy suggested they donate Loralei, together with a conservation easement on Wolfgang, to a Canadian land trust through the Canadian Ecological Gifts Program (EGP), instead of seeking a U.S. tax deduction. The Canadian tax credit for those gifts, available through EGP, would offset the Canadian capital gains tax on gifting the family cabin and Wolfgang to Jonathan.

Per Verdonk, Flickr

White Admiral by Per Verdonk, Flickr

Sandy recalls, “Cameron referred the Farbers to me because they are U.S. taxpayers. Everyone assumed that a U.S. tax deduction would convince Joel and Ada to donate and therefore they should gift their property to American Friends. But our work at the intersection of the U.S. and Canadian tax systems has taught us to look at all the possibilities. This was a situation where our knowledge was more important to successful conservation than accepting the land donation.”

After conferring with an accountant with crossborder expertise, Joel and Ada implemented Sandy’s suggestion. They donated the easement on Wolfgang and ownership of Loralei to Ontario Nature to expand the 588-acre Lost Bay Nature Reserve. The Canadian tax credit completely offset the capital gains taxes on both the transfer to Jon and on the sale of two building lots, which generated money so Joel and Ada could provide financial support to their other son.

Joel said, “It was very important to us that Wolfgang remain undeveloped,” he explained. “The conservation easement prevents any building or any permanent changes to Wolfgang, but Jon will own the property and the parcel with the cabin on the other side of the river. There’s got to be some place where humans don’t have the upper hand.”

Cameron Smith put the Farbers’ donations in the broader context. “The Gananoque River and Lost Bay are within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve — one of only eighteen in Canada. The Arch connects the Canadian Shield to the Appalachians, providing the most important north/south ecological pathway in eastern North America.” The easement on Wolfgang completed the protection of an entire side of Lost Bay, opposite an increasing number of waterfront cottages. Property values have quadrupled since the start of the Covid pandemic, making the timing of the Farbers’ donations fortuitous.

Dylan Martin, Flickr

Yellow Spotted Salamander, cropped by Dylan Martin, Flickr

Tanya Pulfer, former Project Manager with Ontario Nature, says Lost Bay is a highly-prized recreation area, and home to a number of species at risk. “Sandy figured out the conservation and crossborder tax structure. The family was really interested in seeing the land protected, yet they also had to address monetary and estate-planning concerns. Not only is their son interested in maintaining an interest in the land, but their granddaughter is also, so a family legacy is going forward.”

Without the solution tailored to the Farbers’ objectives, Joel and Ada would have sold the building lots, paid the tax on the sales, kept the other parcels and a substantial capital gains taxes would have been due when they passed away. The conservation opportunity would have been lost. That is why AF’s “technical assistance” plays such a valuable, although often invisible, role in Canadian landscapes where U.S. taxpayers own ecologically significant properties.

This cross-border conservation gift and easement mean so much to the landowners and their heirs, and also to Ontario Nature, The Lost Bay Reserve, and the larger Frontenac Arch. The migrating loons and other wildlife that cross from the Appalachians to the Canadian Shield can rest easy with their young, as this area is now protected forever.


— Sheila Harrington

Sheila is a Director of the Lasqueti Island Nature Conservancy in British Columbia (BC) and the former Executive Director, Land Trust Alliance of BC

It has been an amazing few months working as the first Executive Director at American Friends of Canadian Conservation (American Friends). Amazing to see the international partnerships forged over the years. Amazing to see the landscape scale conservation impact achieved by working in collaboration with others. Amazing to see the habitat, water, and wildlife conserved through a collective vision from coast to coast to coast in Canada.

The last year has not been without challenges – one of the largest impacting small charities like American Friends across North America were the extremely high rates of inflation. As costs continue to escalate we need to carefully evaluate the possible impacts to our programming and either increase and diversify our fundraising efforts or consider cuts to important programs.

Given the growing attention around biodiversity and the importance of land conservation as a nature-based solution to help address the dual biodiversity and climate change crisis, it really is the time to take-action and expand the work that we are already doing so well.

It may seem at times that land conservation is about acres/hectares conserved and bucks raised, but at AF we know the truth: it’s about people, partnerships, and collaborations working together to conserve the right acres/hectares.

As we look forward to the end of 2022 and a brighter 2023, please remember to support charities like the American Friends of Canadian Conservation and our land trust partners across Canada.


D.E. (Dave) Hillary

Blue Massawippi focuses on the preservation of Lake Massawippi and its watershed. While the role of the Trust is to conserve land, Blue Massawippi’s mission is to inform, educate, influence and act on environmental issues threatening water quality, the health of Lake Massawippi. The organization and its partners monitor water quality and promote awareness of best practices among water users, municipalities and government. Their projects include identifying and preventing invasive aquatic species and curbing surface erosion and pollution. Blue Massawippi works closely with the Foundation, which funds some of the organization’s initiatives.