Saturday, May 25, 2024
May 25, 2024

Lumley deal inked, funding needed

Conservation project would protect ‘gold’ wetland

A purchase price has been negotiated for the BC Parks Foundation to acquire a remarkable 31-acre parcel on the south end of Salt Spring Island, according to project organizers, who hope to close the deal quickly — and are urgently seeking additional funding. 

The property flanks both sides of undeveloped Lumley Road, which connects Isabella Point Road and Mountain Road, explained Lumley Conservation Project co-coordinator Charles Kahn, adding that the land’s proximity to an 800-acre ecological reserve and a covenanted 76-acre forest reserve provides an opportunity to conserve an almost untouched natural area in the Coastal Douglas Fir (CDF) zone contiguous to currently protected areas — minimizing the fragmentation of forested land in the area. 

Kahn and co-coordinator Elissa Poole have been working for several years to protect the property, he said, most of which comprises mature second growth forest. But there are also about three acres of exceptional wetland — and wetland biologist Robin Annschild said the swamp on the far side of Mountain Road in the ecological reserve, which has been identified as painted turtle habitat, could be extended to include it.  

“This property is gold,” said Annschild, who previously provided the ecological assessments for the Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC). Annschild said the current ponds and swamps hold water all summer, rather than seasonally — and the wetland habitat is enhanced by the presence of huge perimeter trees, mostly “immense” old growth cedar, and several very old, dead snags, a haven for nesting birds. 

“This land has been virtually undisturbed for 50 years,” Kahn said, “except for walkers along the undeveloped road access that bisects the property.” 

It’s also home to over 100 bird species including species of conservation concern — including olive-sided flycatchers, common nighthawks, and a pair of great horned owls which successfully fledged two young this summer.  

“We haven’t been able to do fundraising until we had an agreement in place,” said Kahn. “But the deal is now signed and firm, so we can start raising the money we need.” 

By connecting this acreage with an extensive strip of forest on a contiguous property to the west — Kahn said that owner has agreed to covenant several acres to enhance the viability of this project — the Lumley acreage expands and buffers both the Mt. Tuam Ecological Reserve and the Mountain Meadows covenanted land. He added the owners of a property to the east have also expressed a willingness to covenant a section of their land. 

The Lumley parcel landowner would like to finalize the purchase by the end of April, Kahn said; there is a grant in place from the Salt Spring Island Foundation, and there have been some pledges for funding — but more is needed. 

“We need to raise about $1.2 million,” said Kahn. 

Those interested in contributing can do so through the BC Parks Foundation portal, www.bcparksfoundation.ca/projects/parks-bank/salt-spring-island/ or by calling (604) 343-3975. Please indicate that you are donating to the Lumley Road acquisition.  

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