This aerial view shows the area proposed nature sanctuary on Quadra Island. Image, Strathcona Regional District

Woman donates her land as nature reserve on Quadra Island

Shore area on Hyacinthe Bay includes nesting spots for seabirds

A Quadra Island property that’s belonged to a family for decades will now become a nature preserve.

The move happened because of a donation from Meiling Alps, who has decided to leave the site to the Strathcona Regional District to be held in trust as a nature sanctuary.

“It’s for conservation purposes,” Alps said. “It’s a really integral part of Hyacinthe Bay.”

The Strathcona Regional District board passed a motion at the last meeting to accept the six-hectare piece of land from Alps, which, other than a cabin on site, is in a natural state.

“It hadn’t really been touched since it had been logged at the beginning of the last century,” she said. “It’s next to Crown property, which has been untouched…. It is kind of a protected area to begin with.”

The land includes an upland forest with Douglas fir, red alder and big leaf maple. A coastal bluff ecosystem includes lichens, grasses, wildflowers and shrubs that are sensitive to human activity.

Alps says her own family is all getting older and not able to use the site often, but she would like to still have access to it for a time. She approached the regional district earlier this year about donating the land, which fronts along the north side of Hyacinthe Bay. As part of the arrangement, she and her family will still be able to use the cabin for periods over the next decade for a $1 annual lease, though the site will eventually be left alone.

“It’ll revert to its natural state,” Area C Director Jim Abram said.

Under the planned covenant, the land could not be sold, subdivided or traded. It will not allow buildings, storage or dumping of materials or equipment, pesticide or herbicide use, fires or tree cutting, hunting or trapping, domestic animals for grazing or the introduction of new plants. No new trails or roads can be built, though the existing trail can remain.

Abram was pleased with the donation, saying there are not many locations of shoreline property left on Quadra. The coastal bluffs provide nesting sites for seabirds, such as oystercatchers, cormorants, kingfishers and swallows.

“This is such an incredible gift,” he said. “For this to be preserved is a real godsend for us…. There’s only so much shoreline that’s available.”

For the regional district, it is expected the project will require survey work as part of creating the nature sanctuary, which SRD staff estimate will cost approximately $10,000. The SRD will likely have to cover another $10,000 for a legal review, registration of the covenant on the title and hiring a biologist to prepare a report for the covenant, though staff note this might be able to be done on a volunteer basis. Initial costs will come from the Area C parks service operating budget, though ultimately it can be recovered from the area’s parkland acquisition reserve fund.

As part of the agreement, the Quadra Island Conservancy and Stewardship Society is also a partner and will provide occasional checks on the property each year.

“Our role basically will be to monitor the conditions of that covenant,” member Ken Roxburgh said. “There are certain rules that have to be followed.”

The group will be co-holders of the covenant with the SRD. Roxburgh said their group is small and has few resources, so the regional district will be there to provide resources in the event of any legal issues. The society holds four covenants in the area, the biggest one of which is Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island.

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