Area residents have formed a group called Save the Heart of Quadra Parks, to raise funds toward the purchase of a 395-hectare property on north Quadra Island.
The land forms a key link between existing parks at Octopus Islands and Small Inlet.
“These parks are treasured by boaters and area residents,” says committee member Jeanette Taylor, “but few realize the jigsaw-shaped property at their core is privately-owned timberland.”
The land includes a portage trail that runs between Waiatt Bay and the head of Small Inlet. A trail continues past a waterfall and on to the turquoise blue Newton Lake.
“The real challenge here,” says Taylor, “is that we have to raise $200,000 before the end of September.”
The BC Parks Branch has had the property on their top-10 acquisitions list for over a decade. They signed off on a purchase agreement this spring and a campaign kicked into gear to meet the $6.15 million purchase price.
The province hopes to achieve this through a combination of carbon tax credits, land swaps and grants. They have asked area residents to join them, to raise part of the funds and provide a demonstration of community support that acts as leverage.
Judy Leicester, who co-ordinates much of the volunteer work on Quadra Island’s vast network of trails, is proud of the fact that a the local committee has already amassed $45,000.
About a third of those funds have come through contributions to a “$1,000 Club,” and more has been pledged. The first 22 people to sign up for the club will enjoy a daytrip to the parks aboard Mothership Adventure’s historic boat the Columbia III this fall.
The committee is also looking for donations of $10,000 and up, which will be permanently recognized on a stone cairn. The marker will be placed on the portage route in the proposed addition to the parks.
“Contributors to this purchase are showing vision,” says Leicester. “This wilderness area will take on increasing importance in the future, as the population rises. Residents now, and in a century from now, will thank us for this.”
The parks on north Quadra Island link to a coast-wide chain of protected areas that are prized by boaters.
“So who cares about a place that’s off the beaten track?” asks Taylor. “Boaters of every size and stripe, for sure. Anyone who has ever paddled their kayak into Waiatt Bay or gone ashore in their dingy to hike the trail to Newton Lake for a swim, will want this place preserved as is.”
For more information, visit www.quadraparks.ca, where you’ll find a donor form, or call Leicester at 250-285-2663. All donations are welcome. Those at $25 and up are eligible for a tax receipt from Quadra Island Conservancy Society, Box 202, Heriot Bay, B.C., V0P 1H0.