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Saltspring's missing jigsaw piece protected

Feb 18 2012

A unique property on Saltspring Island has been protected through a partnership between the provincial government and The Nature Trust of B.C.

The 22-hectare parcel was the missing piece in a jigsaw of protected areas between the Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve and Burgoyne Bay protected area.

The province has come up with $310,000 allowing The Nature Trust to buy the waterfront property.

It will be leased back to B.C. Parks as part of the Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve.

The parcel is one of the few remaining examples of coastal Douglas fir ecosystem, one of most threatened ecosystems in B.C., Environment Minister Terry Lake said in an interview.

"It is home to a lot of species like great blue herons and bats and butterflies," he said.

The property also has the largest stand of Garry oaks in Canada.

"It's a unique slice of Canada," Lake said.

Collaboration with conservation organizations allows the province to protect areas it might not otherwise be able to afford, Lake said.

"I think this is the way of today," he said.

"And it is something that comes from the grassroots."

The full price of the property was $1.2 million and the deal was helped along by the property owners who wanted to protect the property, said Doug Walker, Nature Trust president.

"It's a very desirable parcel, so we're very fortunate that the owners had a strong conservation perspective," he said.

The total protected area is now 1,168 hectares, including 9.2 kilometres of protected shoreline.

However, the newly added parcel is not a place to take the hiking boots and picnic basket.

"This is 100 per cent for conservation. It's not open for recreational hiking. It has been set aside for its unique habitat properties," Walker said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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