SUBMITTED BY SALT SPRING ISLAND CONSERVANCY
The Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC) is thrilled to announce that Creekside Rainforest is now protected in perpetuity as the Conservancy’s ninth nature reserve. The acquisition of the 6.3 hectare (15.5 acre) Creekside Rainforest is part of a long-term vision of Salt Spring Island’s conservation community to protect the fresh water, salmon habitat, rare species, imperiled ecosystems, and archaeological and cultural features of this rare area of coastal temperate rainforest. In 2008, the 7.9 hectare (19.5 acre) property adjoining Creekside Rainforest Nature Reserve was protected thanks to a community fundraising effort. Initially held by TLC The Land Conservancy of BC, this land became the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve in 2015.
Creekside Rainforest Nature Reserve (CRNR), together with Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve, represents a unique area of lowland coastal temperate rainforest within the drier forest ecosystems more commonly associated with the Southern Gulf Islands. CRNR’s forested ravine, northerly aspect, and higher than normal rainfall create a cool and moist microclimate that supports a high diversity of plants and animals, including two species – Great blue heron and Northern red-legged frog – that are classified as species of ‘Special Concern’ by Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The property’s cool and moist conditions also create a refugium for species under stress from climate change and help to mitigate the threat of forest fires. Cusheon Creek runs through the ravine, where the streamside habitat is pristine and the continuous undisturbed tree canopy helps maintain cool water temperatures benefitting salmonids swimming upstream to spawning and rearing habitat.
Found within this new nature reserve are two ecosystems that are provincially classified as imperiled, as well as Western redcedar up to 250 years old, enormous Bigleaf maples draped in moss and lichen, and numerous species associated with older rainforests. Now protected, Creekside Rainforest’s high carbon storage and sequestration values will be maintained. The benefits of protecting Creekside Rainforest extend beyond its ecological importance, however. Culturally-modified Western redcedar and archeological deposits recorded nearby indicate use by the Coast Salish people of the ancient village sites in the Cusheon Creek estuary and Beddis Beach area.
“Protecting Western Redcedars that were seedlings 250 years ago makes this a remarkable piece of Canada’s natural history. The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is helping the Government of Canada make progress toward its goal of conserving a quarter of land and water in Canada by 2025, working toward 30 percent of each by 2030. By working with partners such as the Salt Spring Island Conservancy, and with the support of local donors and conservation organizations, we are helping to protect the natural environment in British Columbia and across the country. Protecting land plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and contributes to the recovery of species at risk.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Conservation of Creekside Rainforest was made possible by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, and the support of local donors and conservation organizations. SSIC is grateful for the generous support of local philanthropist and conservationist, the late Susan Bloom. Hundreds of local donors contributed to the project, and local residents Jean Wilkinson and Julia Grace provided invaluable support by organizing the initial neighborhood fundraising. BC Conservation and Biodiversity Awards and TLC The Land Conservancy of BC were important financial contributors, with TLC also helping to advertise and increase awareness of the project.
SSIC hopes to welcome walkers to the new nature reserve in spring 2023, following completion of trail work and installation of signage. A new trail will loop back to the existing trails, providing hikers with a longer and more varied hike. Access to CRNR will be through the entrance to Jarrod’s Grove Nature Reserve (on Creekside Drive) with a trail map directing walkers to CRNR.
Susan Bloom said of Creekside Rainforest, “We must save this precious jewel.” Thankfully, this jewel has now been saved. As stated by Dr. Penny Barnes, Executive Director of SSIC, “The Creekside Rainforest Nature Reserve stands as a legacy for future generations and demonstrates the shared commitment of the federal Natural Heritage Conservation Program, our generous community and our partner conservation organizations to protecting our beautiful, ecologically fragile island.”
The Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC) is a registered charity established in 1995 whose purpose is to conserve, protect and enhance natural values on Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters. SSIC currently owns and stewards nine nature reserves (312 hectares (771 acres) total), and works with interested owners to preserve sensitive ecosystems on private land through donation, acquisition, covenants (SSIC holds 17 on 323 hectares (798 acres) total), stewardship agreements (SSIC holds 97 on 569 hectares (1406 acres) total) and land management strategies. SSIC has a strong public education program, educating islanders on local plant and animal species through community presentations, guided nature walks, workshops, articles, newsletters, website, social media, and e-mail news briefs. SSIC’s Stewards in Training school program provides hands-on nature education for up to 700 K-7 Salt Spring Island students annually.
The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique partnership that supports the creation and recognition of protected and conserved areas through the acquisition of private land and private interest in land. To date, the Government of Canada has invested more than $440 million in the Program, which has been matched with more than $870 million in contributions raised by Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community leading to the protection and conservation of more than 700,000 hectares of ecologically sensitive lands.
To learn more about the Creekside Rainforest Nature Reserve, visit the Salt Spring Island Conservancy website: https://saltspringconservancy.ca. The Conservancy can be contacted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (250-538-0318).