BC Parks Foundation Helps Preserve Vital Ecosystem on Salt Spring Island

Residents of Salt Spring Island, the largest of BC’s Gulf Islands and located in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, have worked with the BC Parks Foundation to successfully save part of a rare ecosystem from development and logging.

In under a month, the Salt Spring Island Conservation Project crowdfunding campaign raised $1.2 million to preserve 31.2 acres of mature Coastal Douglas fir habitat on the south end of the Island. Coastal Douglas fir ecosystems are among the most biodiverse in BC, and they need the most protection—98% of their ecological communities are at risk of being lost.

“Today is a big win for this vital ecosystem and for everyone involved,” says Andy Day, CEO of BC Parks Foundation. “It’s a shining example of how people can make a lasting positive impact by coming together.”

Local residents Elissa Poole and Charles Kahn recognized the value of the land and feared that, if it went on the market, it would be developed or logged for its mature timber. They reached out to BC Parks Foundation, who approached the owner and negotiated a purchase. Kahn, Poole, and the Foundation then worked together to launch a crowdfunding campaign and generate support.

“The heroes are our local partners and everyone who stepped forward and did what they could,” says Day. “The speed and dedication of the Salt Spring Island residents as they worked to protect this valuable land was nothing short of amazing.” Contributions included a $100,000 grant from Salt Spring Island Foundation’s Land Protection Fund and a significant gift from Wilson 5 Foundation, along with several other generous local donors.

“From the start of this project,” says Poole, “many biologists and conservationists have walked through these 31 acres, marvelling at the variety of different ecosystems, the size of the old firs and cedars, the wealth of wildlife, and the amount of water in the wetland, even in drought. Their enthusiasm was tremendously helpful in validating this campaign, and the Salt Spring community has been wonderfully supportive, whether maintaining pledges made years earlier, or jumping in with significant donations as soon as they’ve learned about the project.

“Due to development and industry, BC’s coastal bird species have plummeted by 35% since 1970. The mature forests and older trees on this now-protected property are home to more than 100 bird species, including several species of conservation concern such as the olive-sided flycatcher, common nighthawk, and great horned owl. The wetland provides a haven for at-risk northern red-legged frogs, while yellow montane violets, also at risk, grace parts of the perimeter of the forested areas. “I couldn’t be happier, knowing that this special forest and wetland will at last be protected,” says Poole.

Protecting the property is also leveraging further protection through conservation covenants on neighboring properties—including a stretch of forest that will connect the property to the Mount Tuam Ecological Reserve. “It creates a corridor of protected land and preserves the interconnectedness of ecosystems,” says Day.

BC Parks Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to every individual who contributed to this crowdfunding campaign. “British Columbians love BC and want to keep it beautiful,” says Day. “What better way to give back and create a lasting legacy than coming together to protect places like this. It’s pure goodness.”

About BC Parks Foundation

BC Parks Foundation is an independent public foundation and the official charitable partner to BC Parks. Our vision is a connected system of parks and Indigenous protected areas that is cared for, resilient, and full of life, generating jobs, wealth and other benefits for people and other species.