A grove of old cedars on lot 302
Read Island is part of the Discovery Islands, a forested archipelago nestled between Vancouver Island and the rugged mountains of BC’s mainland coast. Located at the top of the Strait of Georgia, it lies east of Quadra and north of Cortes Island. With a year-round population of just 87 residents and no ferry access, this island is unique. It is situated at the confluence of mountains and ocean, at the junction of tidal flows, between distinctly different ecoregions, and at the edge of BC’s coastal wilderness. Colliding influences create rich diversity of habitats in a dynamic mosaic of ecosystems that includes shorelines, estuaries, creeks, wetlands, ponds and lakes, meadows, woodlands, forests, and cliffs. Some of these ecosystems are rare and fragile and some provide niche habitats for species at-risk. These are sensitive ecosystems and they have special ecological significance. The unique nature of the islands has been recorded through the Discovery Island Ecosystem Mapping project which can be accessed at www.diemproject.org .
Unfortunately, for decades the area’s natural wealth has resulted in significant logging that has threatened the sensitive ecosystems. Indeed, by the early 1980’s private forest land logging gave Read Island the dubious distinction of bearing the largest clear cut on any BC gulf island, with impacts that disheartened the small outer islands community. And since that time, logging has continued unabated as evidenced by the following map.
Yellow & orange polygons show clearcuts made since 1980
The Community Takes Action
Determined to protect one beloved forest, by 1992, Surge Narrows residents raised $78,000 to purchase 20 acres of critical fish and forest habitat along the main road near the school and community centre. This was an epic effort that resulted in Read Island’s first conservation area, the Lot 309 Fish and Forest Reserve.
We have launched this GoFundMe campaign as another opportunity has recently arisen to not only protect more land, but to link other areas of protected land and thus make a contiguous protected area. And we are asking for your help.
The Lot 302 Project
Recently, long term residents Derek and Pat D’Altroy announced they will be leaving Read Island and plan to sell Lot 302, twenty acres of old forest adjacent to the Lot 309 Fish and Forest Reserve. A logging company immediately expressed interest in the mature Douglas-fir and Western red-cedar, but this island community had other ideas: A purchase agreement and deposit was made on the property just 12 hours ahead of the logging company’s offer. Combined, Lot 302 and Lot 309 provide significant protection for the headwaters of Read Island’s most important salmon stream. As indicated in the following map, Lot 302 also connects Lot 309 with the Strathcona Regional District’s (SRD) new waterfront park, the public school land, and the John Kim Nature Sanctuary – creating an accessible, contiguous protected area along the main road near the community centre.
Read Island: Green areas indicated protected areas, including Lot 302
Local residents acted quickly, and Surge Narrows Community Association have signed an agreement, with the D’Altroys, to purchase the land for $150,000, a fraction of the assessed timber value. A local family and a kayak adventure company, the Kellers and Coast Mountain Expeditions, have donated $50,000 towards the purchase, along with bridge funding while the community raises the balance. Without the efforts of Ralph and Lannie Keller and CME this forest would have been lost to the community and yet more logging would have taken place.
This is a rare opportunity to purchase and protect valuable and environmentally precious forest land. This purchase will protect the wetland and water quality for salmon streams; Bird Cove and White Rock Creeks provide habitat for Coho and Chum. It will protect biodiversity and insulate the community from intensively managed forest land visible beyond Lot 302. It will provide an opportunity for educators to develop a field classroom for the study of forest biology. Furthermore, the development of an old growth nature interpretative trail system from the Surge Dock through Lot 302 to the salmon stream in Lot 309 will provide opportunities for visitors to Surge Dock to explore and appreciate the natural environment of Read Island. However, with a population of just 87, the community needs help in raising the funds. We hope that all those who value old growth forests, diverse ecosystems and have a desire to mitigate climate change will join us in helping purchase and protect this land.
The Surge Narrows Community Association is a registered charity that can provide tax receipts for donations to this purchase. Community members are approaching government for funding assistance and researching a number of grant possibilities. With the help of our many friends here and around the world, this purchase is an exciting and achievable opportunity to preserve a Read Island forest for ecological, economic and social benefits. We have until December 31st, 2020 to raise the funds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will own the property?
The land will ultimately be owned by the Strathcona Regional District. There will be a Conservation Covenant registered on the property to ensure its protection in perpetuity.
What development will happen on the property?
The purpose of acquiring this property is to maintain the forest in its natural state and in so doing ensure a protected corridor from Surge dock to Lot 309. The focus will be preservation and education. Thus, the only planned development is the construction of environmentally sensitive trails that will guide locals, student groups and Read Island visitors. In some places board walks may have to be constructed in order to protect the forest floor. Furthermore, a simple shelter and/or outhouse may be built to provide an area that allows groups to get out of the weather and discuss their observations. Perhaps at this shelter there will be information that will help them understand and appreciate the environment they are in.
What happens if not enough money is raised by December 2020?
The Kellers, who have already donated $50,000, have kindly offered to provide bridge financing while fundraising efforts continue.
What happens if more than $100,000 is raised?
Our hope is that this will be the start of purchasing land on Read Island with the goal of preserving our forests. Any additional monies raised will be placed in an interest-bearing fund for use at a time another suitable lot becomes available for purchase.
How do I get more information?
Please contact the Surge Narrows Community Association at [email redacted].
On behalf of the Surge Narrows Community Association we thank you for your interest.
- R Anderson
- Lone V. Tratt
- Joan M. Sell
Fundraising team: Surge Narrows Community Association (2)
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