In 1994, a group of seven women* came together to form the Salt Spring Island Conservancy in order to realize their vision to conserve and care for the unique ecosystems and species-at-risk of this beautiful Salish Sea island. A year later, the conservancy received charitable status and the ability to hold conservation covenants. No time was wasted in taking full advantage of the community momentum to protect significant areas. Early wins included working with the Capital Regional District and the provincial government to purchase lands for Mill Farm Regional Park and helping in the campaign to purchase lands from the Texada Land Corporation in order to halt logging and create Burgoyne Provincial Park (late 1990s). The first conservation covenant (33.6 acres) held by the Conservancy was signed in 1998. In 2001, the Conservancy acquired a major conservation covenant of 263 acres for the Maxwell Lake watershed.
Over the next couple of decades, the Conservancy acquired land for eight nature reserves: Andreas Vogt, Manzanita Ridge, Mt Erskine, North View, Alvin Indridson, Robert and Shauna Makaroff, Blackburn Lake, and Howard Horel. Many of these reserves are located adjacent to areas held by other NGOs or government agencies, so that the benefits of a single conservation area are leveraged to create larger, contiguous areas where wildlife and native flora have a better chance to thrive. By 2020, its 25th anniversary year, the Conservancy has grown into a robust organization that manages our nature reserves, holds 17 conservation covenants, and has stewardship agreements with 69 private landowners, protecting a total of over 2300 acres on Salt Spring.
Salt Spring Island is located within the Coastal Douglas Fir biogeoclimatic zone - the rarest ecosystem in BC and home to over 100 provincially and federally listed species-at-risk: the highest number of rare and endangered species in the province. Since 2004, the Conservancy has obtained grant funding from the federal Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk that has allowed us to monitor, create and protect habitat for species at risk such as the northern red-legged frog, Western screech owl and sharp-tailed snake. Education has also become an important part of the Conservancy’s work through the Stewards in Training (SiT) program for all K-8th grade local students. This program fosters the next generation of conservationists and teaches them about the complexity of the natural environment and how each of us has an integral role in protecting it.
The Conservancy is truly a community organization, offering many benefits to our island’s residents. The conservation covenant on the Maxwell Lake watershed helps ensure that the lake will provide a sufficient quantity and quality of drinking water for present and future needs. The nature reserves are available for public enjoyment, through extensive trail systems that often connect with regional parks and provincial trails to create opportunities for long walks through diverse and beautiful natural areas. Interpretative signs have been posted at many of the nature reserves so that walkers and hikers can learn about the history of the reserves and their predominant flora and fauna. As the impacts of climate change unfold around us, the work of the Conservancy in protecting our unique ecosystems becomes ever more relevant.
The Conservancy is excited to recognize this important 25th anniversary milestone and hopes that you will join us by supporting our fundraising efforts this year to ensure the ongoing success of the Conservancy’s work. We couldn’t do it without the support of our members, volunteers and the community here on Salt Spring. We encourage you to get to know us better by checking out our website – it’s loaded with fascinating information about the natural environment of this amazing place we call home.
Salt Spring Conservancy Member
* Nancy Braithwaite, Fiona Flook, Heather Martin, Maureen Milburn, Ailsa Pearse, Mallory Pred and Ann Richardson