In 1999 and 2000, TLC purchased the last remaining intact riparian area on the lower Nanaimo River. The site contains 56 hectares (140 acres) of old growth Douglas-fir forest and is integral to commercial and recreational fisheries associated with the Nanaimo River and Haslam Creek. The coastal Douglas-fir forest ecosystem is classified as one of the top four most endangered ecosystems within the whole of Canada. In B.C. this ecosystem occurs only on southeast Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Islands, and only a tiny fraction of Douglas-fir stands remain in a relatively unaltered condition. Because it is on an important and unstable flood-plain this stand has been left intact, safe except for a small number of trees that were selectively logged over 80 years ago. The Nanaimo River is rated as one of the top steelhead rivers for anglers on Vancouver Island and its recreational fishery for cutthroat is also well known. This property is particularly popular as it is easily accessed on foot and offers a beautiful setting.
The intact riparian zone along the river forms an important transition between aquatic and terrestrial environments, providing water, food and shelter, three critical habitat elements for fish and wildlife. A number of studies have shown that up to 80 percent of the species found in a watershed use the riparian area for some portion of their life history. Since there is no other intact riparian zone on the lower portion of the Nanaimo, this section is of vital importance for the health of the river.
The site includes two properties of 16.2 and 40.5 hectares. To complete the purchase of both properties and to cover legal fees, appraisal costs, and taxes TLC had to raise $1,000,000. The Regional District of Nanaimo provided $300,000 over two years towards the acquisitions in return for a 99-year lease to the site for park purposes. Habitat Conservation Trust Fund contributed $200,000. A visit by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Herb Dhaliwal, solidified the federal donation of $325,000 towards the 40.5 hectare purchase.
Other partners include the Nanaimo Fish and Game Club, Trout Unlimited, Nanaimo Fish Hatchery, Nanaimo Field Naturalists and the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust.
TLC continues to work on the removal of invasive plant species and beach cleanups at the site. We are also continuing to working with the Regional District of Nanaimo Parks and Recreation department on the management plan for the site and, as part of this work, we will help complete restoration projects and gather information for ecological baseline inventories. Periodic working holidays are scheduled to help with this work.
From Victoria, turn right from the Trans-Canada Highway on to Thatcher Rd., then right on to Frey Rd., for 1.5 km. Look for TLC signs at the pull-out.