It has been three years now since the Bowen Island Conservancy acquired 30 acres of land on the eastern slopes of Cape Roger Curtis. This lovely property includes a forest (previously logged but still containing many mature species of trees), open coastal bluffs, areas of seepage, and lowland water. There are incredible views from the shoreline.
First, we needed a name. There were many options, and we chose Wild Coast Nature Refuge, reflecting both its location and its value as a sanctuary for natural wildlife. Since we knew it should have visitor access we wanted the name to invoke pride in its biodiversity.
For the first two years, we were in planning stages. A complete evaluation of the property was needed. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was formed, made up of local biologists, botanists and geologists. They explored the ecology of the land over many visits and meetings, reporting their findings to our Board. Another committee developed a management plan and hired Claudia Schaefer to complete a baseline study of the flora and fauna in the Refuge.
All this information helped us understand where to avoid damage to endangered species, making it easier to design trails and viewpoints for public access. We built trail outlines, had maps and other public notices designed, and aim to have viewpoint benches and interpretive signage soon. Otherwise, nature is left free to flourish unharmed.
Much of the work has been done by Mark Edmonds, volunteer extraordinaire, who has spent hundreds of hours enhancing and marking trails, building fences where necessary, and clearing the land of invasive plants such as blackberry, broom and thistle. Also, 20 volunteers help to keep trails free of debris, watch for wildlife, chat to visitors and monitor the Refuge throughout the year.
It has been reassuring to learn that bikers and dog owners, with a few exceptions, understand the reasons for and adhere to our prohibit signs.
We are “building” our nature park carefully, observing and discovering changes in the landscape with each new season. Reforestation and planting of native plant species are planned for future preservation of our Refuge as a protected home for Bowen’s wild creatures.