About a quarter of Denman Island is now officially protected land, thanks to the addition of a new park and two protected areas.
“I think for the community it’s an incredible amenity,” says Peter Karsten, who is on the Denman Island Parks Committee. “It’s a wonderful, shall we say, gift to us as Islanders because it has now made 24, almost 25 per cent of our Island be protected in green spaces, so this is really quite remarkable.”
The Ministry of Environment announced Thursday the new Denman Island Park is slightly larger than Stanley Park, with 552 hectares of land.
According to a Ministry news release, a further 92 hectares of land will be maintained and preserved in the Denman Island Protected Area, plus 9.3 hectares make up the Boyle Point Protected Area.
Finally, 52 hectares of land has been added to Boyle Point Park, making that park 188 hectares in size.
The lands were acquired by the Ministry in 2010 through a public-private partnership involving land donations, Crown land transfers, the transfer of local development rights and carbon sequestration, according to the release.
John Millen of the Denman Conservancy Association (DCA) explains the 552-hectare Denman Island Park is made up of a number of areas on the Island rather than one large park. One of those areas very important to the DCA is around one of the Island’s two lakes.
“There is one large area around Chickadee Lake, which has been, for our conservancy, of course, going on 15 years now, a major area of our concern,” he says, adding, “because Chickadee Lake was surrounded by nice forest and, you know, really good status, and they have now secured all that and it’s part of the parks — that’s very nice.”
Karsten notes part of the northern Island that is now Denman Island Park will be a designated butterfly preserve for the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, which is a species at risk.
“To our knowledge, (the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly is) only existing on Denman Island right now in all of Canada,” he says, adding the butterflies seem to like certain conditions found on the northern part of the Island that was logged a number of years ago.
“The 10-hectare butterfly preserve would be something that we could manipulate the habitat.”
He adds a volunteer group hopes to establish a population, and has created a captive breeding facility on Denman Island with the hope of releasing the butterflies into the designated butterfly habitat on the north end of the Island.
Now that the parks and protected areas have been officially designated, Karsten says the Denman Island Parks Committee will work with BC Parks to create management plans for the areas, which will determine appropriate uses for the new areas, whether they be conservation or recreation.
“There’s a very intense conservation element to this new park thing, but by and large I think it’s going to, you know — the whole idea is to keep it as natural as possible and of course, more accessible,” he says. “There’ll be some trail development so people can safely enjoy nature.”
Environment Minister Terry Lake noted Denman Island’s unique ecosystems in the news release, and Comox Valley MLA Don McRae noted an ecosystem in the Denman Island Park in particular.
“The Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone is one of the rarest zones in British Columbia and has a high conservation value,” he said in the release as he thanked everyone involved in protecting the ecologically sensitive lands. “Families will be able to experience this unique ecosystem for years to come.”