Gift of a Lifetime: Clayoquot Island Preserve donated to Nature Conservancy of Canada
After first saving Clayoquot Island from development 25 years ago, the island's owner has donated the wild portion of the storied island to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to see it kept as a nature preserve in perpetuity. The island, known alternately as Clayoquot Island and Stubbs Island, sits just a short boat ride from Tofino in the entrance to Clayoquot Sound.
Susan Bloom purchased the island in 1990 to protect it from further development – a highly likely outcome for an island that was a former townsite and which contains dozens of individual lots. She established the Clayoquot Island Preserve and allowed the forested parts of the island to flourish as natural habitat. Ms. Bloom converted the townsite into a beautiful heritage garden and a self-sufficient, low impact maintenance buildings, over which she retains ownership.
The donated portion of the island spans 93 acres (38 hectares) of mixed old growth and mature second growth Coastal Western Hemlock forest, along with a substantial stretch of ocean front. A boardwalk leads visitors from the centre of the island through the diverse forest to the western shore, where California wax-myrtle forms dense thickets reaching more than 4 metres. This provincially vulnerable shrub is found only in the coastal regions between Ucluelet and Tofino.
The island’s beaches and intertidal areas support two habitats targeted for conservation: coastal sand dunes and eel grass beds. Great blue heron, black oystercatcher and Pacific geoduck are some of the wildlife that can be found in the area. Clayoquot Island is an important migratory stopover for the hundreds of Brandt geese that feed and rest on the sandspit in the early spring.
Public use of Clayoquot Island will continue to be by invitation only as the island remains private property, with caretakers living in the residence and tending to the island’s gardens and general upkeep.
In addition to donating approximately two-thirds of her island for conservation, Ms. Bloom also made a significant contribution to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to fund the long-term stewardship and management of the preserve.
Additional funding was provided by the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. A portion of this project was donated under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program which provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals or corporations who donate ecologically significant land.
“From the very first time I visited and then became the owner of Clayoquot Island, my goal has been to protect the island from any more development, to preserve it in its natural wild state and to remove years and years of accumulated human garbage and refuse,” said Susan Bloom. “My recent lifetime goal is to see that this beautiful land, steeped in Canadian history, be placed into safe conservation hands and cared for in perpetuity. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has a sterling reputation in the field of land protection and I am delighted that they have accepted this responsibility and are now the owners of the largest wild portion of the island.”
“The ecological value of Clayoquot Sound is universally acknowledged, and we are extremely grateful to Susan Bloom for her commitment to ensuring the long-term conservation of Clayoquot Island,” said Linda Hannah, BC Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “The coastal forest, wetland bogs and sand dune beaches on Clayoquot Island are thriving today because of the conservation vision of Ms. Bloom. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is honoured to take on the ongoing conservation management of the most ecologically sensitive portion of this historic island.”
“Under the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Ecological Gifts Program, the Government of Canada is proud to work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support initiatives that encourage private landowners who want to protect ecologically sensitive lands in Canada,” said The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
- Clayoquot Island lies within the core protected area of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a globally-significant ecological area.
- Clayoquot Island is located in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations.
- In the mid-1800s, Clayoquot Island was the site of the earliest fur-trading post on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The town of Clayoquot on Stubbs Island grew to include a hotel, beer parlour, post office, school and dozens of homes in the early 20th century, but was eventually de-populated as nearby Tofino surpassed Clayoquot as the main town centre in the area.
- Lands were donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program ensuring the protection of these lands for future generations. This program provides enhanced tax incentives for individuals who donate ecologically significant land. Since the beginning of the Ecological Gifts Program in 1995, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has received nearly 300 gifts of land through the program across Canada.
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The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.8 million acres (over 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. More than one quarter of these acres are in British Columbia. www.natureconservancy.ca/bc
The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $400 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.
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