The Government of British Columbia has announced that more than 190 hectares of ecologically sensitive land throughout B.C. has been acquired as new parks, or as additions to existing provincial parks.
“Parks benefit our environment, our economy, and make life better for people in B.C. every day,” said Premier John Horgan. “By protecting these lands today, we’re expanding the beautiful parks B.C. is known for around the world, and making sure this land will be here for future generations.”
The six parcels of land were acquired through purchase, donation or subdivision dedication. The most significant acquisition includes 144 hectares of land known as Eagle Heights, near Koksilah River on southern Vancouver Island. The Province purchased the property for $7.15 million, supported by a $400,000 contribution from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, via the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and a $225,000 contribution from the Cowichan Community Land Trust.
“Our partners help BC Parks identify important areas, so that the ecological, recreational and cultural values of these lands remain intact and protected,”said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “By ensuring the conservation and preservation of these sensitive lands, our children, their children, and future generations will be able to enjoy these beautiful natural spaces for years to come.”
One of the largest park systems in the world, British Columbia has 1,033 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas. They cover more than 14 million hectares, or approximately 14.4% of the provincial land base.
“I applaud the passion, time and effort of several Cowichan Valley area organizations, which worked tirelessly over the years to help secure this special place,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley. “Eagle Heights is a unique area of significant importance, not only to residents of the Cowichan Valley, but also as a great spiritual and cultural connection to the Cowichan Tribes. I am pleased this rare habitat will be preserved in perpetuity.”
The parcels of land are valued at approximately $10 million. The properties acquired are:
- 144 hectares of land called Eagle Heights, near Koksilah River on southern Vancouver Island;
- 2.5 hectares at Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park along the Sunshine Coast, supported by a $750,000 contribution from the BC Marine Parks Forever Society;
- 17 hectares at Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenays;
- 16.4 hectares at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan;
- 9.45 hectares at Dionisio Point Provincial Park on Galiano Island, and
- Four hectares at Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park in the Kootenays.
To learn more about the BC Parks Land Acquisition Program, please visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/partnerships/landAcquisition.html
For more information about BC Parks, please visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/
A backgrounder follows.
Jen HolmwoodDeputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
Media RelationsMinistry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
The 144-hectare Eagle Heights acquisition protects a unique pocket grassland, and is home to rare and endangered species, an old-growth Douglas fir forest, limestone karst features and other red-listed ecosystems. The diverse property is culturally significant to local Indigenous peoples. The acquired lands are near Koksilah River Provincial Park northwest of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, and will either be added to this park, or established as a new Class A park.
“The area known as Eagle Heights has been used by the Cowichan People since time immemorial and is of extreme spiritual and cultural importance. Certain grasses are still used in spiritual practices today, and are only found in the unique grassland ecosystem of Eagle Heights,” said Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour. “Cowichan Tribes has been working to protect this area from clear-cut logging for over a decade, and we are happy to hear that Eagle Heights will now be protected.”
“Island Timberlands is pleased to be able to work collaboratively with BC Parks to achieve the government’s objective of protecting the unique grassland ecosystem at Eagle Heights, while at the same time supporting our managed forest operations on our surrounding lands,” said Bill Waugh, chief forester with Island Timberlands. “The Eagle Heights project represents the culmination of many years of diligent effort, and is a testament to what can be achieved through patient and mutually respectful dialogue.”
“The actions of BC Parks and their partners to fund the acquisition of the Eagle Heights Grasslands complex above the Koksilah River are commendable,” said Jon Lefebure, board chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). “The CVRD board and Cowichan community are longstanding advocates for protection of these lands, which are notably the most valuable and fragile pocket grasslands on Vancouver Island.”
“The pocket grasslands and old-growth forest found on the Eagle Heights property provide important habitat for vulnerable and threatened wildlife species, including Roosevelt elk, western screech owl and northern goshawk,” said Brian Springinotic, CEO of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. “The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation helped fund the purchase of this land so that it would be protected in perpetuity and available to all British Columbians.”
Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park
BC Parks, with the assistance of the BC Marine Parks Forever Society, purchased 2.5 hectares, with the intent of adding the island to Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park. The land was purchased from Harmony Island Owners Ltd. in Renton, Wash. The BC Marine Parks Forever Society contributed the full purchase price of $750,000. The island is located north of Granville Bay in Hotham Sound, approximately 90 kilometres from Vancouver. The property is among a group of four small islands and an islet making up the Harmony Islands.
“The BC Marine Parks Forever Society has supported BC Parks for 28 years, with donations totalling over $2 million. We continue to work with BC Parks to enhance and improve the BC Marine Park system,” said George Creek, president of the BC Marine Parks Forever Society.
Kikomun Creek Provincial Park
The Province purchased the 17-hectare property in the middle of Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, near Baynes Lake / Fernie, for $880,000. Features of the newly acquired property, which will be added to the park, include part of a drumlin, grassland, a natural pond and wetland area. Kikomun Creek Provincial Park protects a rare open forest and grassland, and features four kilometres of lakefront.
“This is a huge announcement for our community,” said Stan Doehle, Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area B director. “The Carlson family has supported the citizens of Baynes Lake for years, and Jane was known for her passionate commitment to the area. It is wonderful to see the property become part of the park so that it will be protected and enjoyed by all. This is what the family wanted, and what we have been working towards for a long time. I know Jane would be so proud.”
Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park
A 16.4-hectare private inholding at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, known as the Harvard Road Vacant Acreage, was acquired for $947,000,. Situated in the northern section of the park which borders Kelowna, the parcel of land contains an open forest and grassland ecosystem, as well as a significant wetland. The area has high recreational values, as several popular mountain biking and hiking trails intersect within the park. The property contains habitat that supports various wildlife, some of which is considered at-risk in the province. Securement of the property also greatly increases habitat connectivity within the balance of the park.
“Friends of South Slope started advocating for the property to be purchased when the previous owner died in 2006. It is considered to be highly important to Myra Bellevue Park, because the public has been using it for many years,” said Isabel Pritchard, with Friends of South Slope (FOSS). “Over the years since 2006, FOSS has been very actively pursuing all avenues towards achieving this goal. We are very excited about this because when looking back, FOSS is 20 years old this month.”
Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park
Located northeast of Kaslo, near the community of Birchdale, this four-hectare parcel of land, worth $60,000, was donated by the Farr-Jones family. It will provide an important habitat connection to the larger portion of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park. With pasture areas and fruit trees, the donated parcel of land is expected to return to its natural state.
“The Farr-Jones family’s gift to the citizens of British Columbia is a wonderful reminder of the connection that people have to BC Parks,” said Bill Bryce, president of the Friends of West Kootenay Parks Society.
Dionisio Point Provincial Park
The 9.45 hectares of land on Galiano Island was acquired as a subdivision dedication that was a requirement of a rezoning process. The lands are adjacent to the Galiano Island Ecological Reserve, and provide protection for an important portion of the ecological reserve’s watershed. This ecologically sensitive area helps protect environments that support species-at-risk in a Coastal Douglas fir forest. The lands also form part of a recreation trail network between Dionisio Point Park and Bodega Ridge Park on Galiano Island.
“The Galiano Conservancy Association welcomes this significant addition to BC Parks on Galiano,” said Risa Smith, chair of the Galiano Conservancy Association. “BC Parks has been a solid partner in accepting additions to its Galiano holdings, made possible through a visionary land-use planning process, that ensure development and protection of the island’s ecologically and culturally significant forest base go hand-in-hand.”