Salt Spring has a new protected forest area, thanks to a covenant agreement between islander Gay Young and the Islands Trust Conservancy (ITC).
The new Moss Mountain covenant encompasses 112 acres along Sansum Narrows — a critical wildlife corridor identified by ITC between Stoney Hill Regional Park on Vancouver Island and Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park and Mill Farm Regional Park Reserve. The property is protected through the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), a program unique to Islands Trust.
“Given the current climate crisis it seemed like a great way to contribute,” said Young. “It was a family decision between me and my three grown-up children. We felt the land needed to be protected forever.”
The Moss Mountain covenant contains a range of ecosystems, including mature forests, seasonal creeks, wetlands, mossy bluffs, Garry oak and arbutus woodlands, and rocky shoreline. According to ITC, it protects three documented species at risk of extinction (two birds, one bat), and nine provincially listed ecosystems — including the federally endangered little brown bat, which was detected during summer bat surveys in 2021.
“We had 112 acres of mature trees,” said Young. “I don’t want them to be destroyed — they are so important and do a great service for us as carbon sinks. It was our job to protect them.”
For qualifying properties over five acres, NAPTEP provides landowners with a 65 per cent property tax reduction for the portion of the property protected by a conservation covenant.
“Conserving land is a direct action individuals can take to prevent biodiversity loss,” said ITC board chair Kate-Louise Stamford, “and increase islands’ resiliency to climate change.”
Since launching in 2005, NAPTEP has resulted in 27 covenants, totalling more than 370 acres of land on Trust-area islands.