Thetis Island Nature Conservancy members Rodney Brownlee, Janice Young, Suzanne Sarioglu, Ann Eriksson, Vicki Walker and Laurel March helped in the creation of the island community’s first nature reserve. (Submitted Photo)

Generous $210K bequest helps in creation of Thetis Island’s first nature reserve

$560,000 raised to protect Fairyslipper Forest with local community pitching in over half

A successful campaign to raise $560,000 helped along by a pair of generous bequests has resulted in the creation of Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve.

The 40-acre plot of land is known as Fairyslipper Forest Nature Reserve, a reference to the calypso ‘fairyslipper’ orchids that bloom each spring on Burchell Hill amongst the Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees.

“I am thrilled by the support we received on this campaign to create the first publicly accessible nature reserve on Thetis Island and sincerely thank each and every one of our supporters,” said Ann Eriksson, founding board member of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy.

“This beautiful forest will be protected forever, and each gift, no matter how big or small, is a part of that conservation success story.”

Offering plenty walking and hiking opportunities to residents and tourists, only low-impact and First Nations traditional use activities will be permitted.

Fairyslipper is the 28th nature reserve that is now protected as a result of the work by the Islands Trust Fund.

Executive director of the Cowichan Community Land Trust, Kai Rietzel said the protection of the nature reserve is “regionally significant.”

“Fairyslipper Forest Nature Reserve protects a maturing stand of Coastal Douglas-fir forest,” Rietzel said. “These types of forests contain the highest diversity of plant species in British Columbia and typically have a high number of species in need of protection.”

Over the course of three years Thetis Island residents and other supporters rallied to raise over half of the $560,000 purchase prize.

In year one, over 100 islanders pledged more than a third of the purchase price, an incredible achievement for a small community of 350 full time residents.

A bequest of $210,000 was also received from an endowment fund created by Syd Watts and Barbara Dowd, who both wrote the Cowichan Community Land Trust into their will.

Other contributions were received from the Sitka Foundation ($50,000), Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Environmental Enhancement Fund ($5,000) and the Gosling Foundation ($2,500).

A partnership between the Island Trust Fund, Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and the Cowichan Community Land Trust saw the goal of preserving Fairyslipper Forest through to completion.

A more formal celebration for all supporters is planned for the spring.

“This purchase is a great example of a community working together to ensure the natural areas we enjoy today continue to benefit future generations,” said Tony Law, Chair of the Trust Fund Board.

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