Creekside Rainforest conservation campaign launched

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Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC) has launched a community fundraiser to acquire and protect 15.5 acres of rare lowland coastal temperate rainforest dubbed the Creekside Rainforest.

The land is home to a wide and unique range of plants and animals and Cusheon Creek, one of the few salmon-bearing streams on the island, flows through the intact forest.

Along with fundraising partner The Land Conservancy of B.C., the SSIC aims to raise $440,000 by this fall to complete the land purchase.

SSIC says local conservation groups have been working to protect Cusheon Creek for almost 40 years. It was a community-led project that in 2008 resulted in protection of the 19.5 acres — now Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve — that adjoins Creekside Rainforest. Concerned neighbours initiated the new conservation effort.

The late Susan Bloom, who was a supportive neighbour and project donor, said of Creekside Rainforest in 2021, “We must save this precious jewel.”

“If acquired by the conservancy, Creekside Rainforest, with the adjoining Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve, will protect 35 acres that include western redcedar up to 250 years old, enormous bigleaf maples draped in moss and lichen, and creek banks lined with maidenhair ferns,” states a press release from the conservancy.

“The land’s deep ravine, higher than normal rainfall, and northerly aspect combine with the continuous forest canopy to create an exceptionally cool and moist microclimate that is home to numerous species associated with older rainforests, including many at risk, and also other island wildlife that use this property as a corridor and water supply.”

Tree canopy helps salmonids swimming upstream to spawning and rearing habitat, explains Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society director Kathy Reimer in the press release.

“Cusheon Creek flows through Creekside Rainforest and Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve that together represent the largest section of pristine riparian habitat on Salt Spring Island,” Reimer said. “It is vitally important that this unique, irreplaceable riparian property is protected for the future.”

People can learn more about what makes Creekside Rainforest unique and how to help to protect it by visiting saltspringconservancy.ca/creeksiderainforest.

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