A new nature reserve—a forested 62-acre area near Ford Lake, including small streams flowing into the headwaters of Fulford Creek—is now in the hands of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy.
The Howard Horel Nature Reserve has been created largely thanks to a generous anonymous donor, with some grant support from Environment and Climate Change Canada and a conservation covenant held by The Land Conservancy BC (TLC), a province-wide land trust.
“The Salt Spring Island Conservancy is thrilled to be the long-term caretaker of this lovely Douglas-fir and sword-fern forest, in memory of Howard C. Horel, a well-known island sawmill operator,” according to Christine Torgrimson, the Conservancy’s executive director. Howard was also a horseman, farrier, avid motorcyclist and member of a long-time island family.
“It’s fabulous that this new reserve adjoins other protected lands that together represent about a 300-acre protected area, including a great network of walking trails, accessible both from Mereside Road and from Sarah Way,” Torgrimson explained. “Particularly as we face accelerating climate change, it’s very important to conserve large areas of diverse landscapes to support the long-term survival and distribution of important plants and animals. We’re very pleased to partner with TLC to conserve this upper part of the Fulford watershed, including forests that help reduce the impacts of climate change.”
The Howard Horel Nature Reserve is next to Bryant Hill Park and Crown land, which also adjoin the Conservancy’s Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve. Torgrimson said the Conservancy will be working with Parks and Recreation Commission staff on a short connecting trail between the trails at Bryant Hill Park and the trails at the Horel reserve. The Crown land is being considered by the province for added protection via a Coastal Douglas-fir initiative that the Conservancy has strongly supported. Torgrimson explained that Salt Spring forms a considerable portion of the globally rare Coastal Douglas-fir zone that comprises just one quarter of one percent of British Columbia.
To date, the Conservancy has located seven Species at Risk that inhabit the Howard Horel Nature Reserve, and more are likely to be found there. The seven species include Olive-sided Flycatcher, Band-tailed Pigeon, Banded Vertigo Snail and four lichen species.
Later this spring, the Conservancy will provide a guided walk through the new reserve. A map of the reserve and area walking trails is posted on the Conservancy’s website.