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Land donation helps protect salmon-bearing streams in Valens Brook Nature Reserve

DENMAN ISLAND, B.C. – A pair of ecologists are doing their part to broaden the greenery footprint on Denman Island.

According to a release from Islands Trust Conservancy, “thanks to the generosity of ecologists Luise Hermanutz and David Innes,” the Valens Brook Nature Reserve on Denman Island is expanding by nearly six acres.

The addition will add protection to Valens Brook – a salmon-bearing creek that runs through a maturing forest and a lush sword fern gully into Baynes Sound, on the southwest side of Denman Island.

Islands Trust Conservancy acting manager Kate Emmings spoke about the land donation and how vital it is to the reserve and its salmon-bearing streams.

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“Denman Island has very few salmon bearing streams,” Emmings told the newsroom. “What’s really important about this gift is it provides the buffer area around the salmon bearing streams.”

What makes the donation all the more special is the fact that it’s two neighbours who independently gave their land without asking for anything in return, Emmings said: “It’s just out of the goodness of their heart and their respect for the salmon creek.”

The Islands Trust Conservancy’s Valens Brook Nature Reserve was established in 2012 when Dr. Kal Holsti and Marilyn Wan protected nearly nine acres.

“Protecting our property was part of a bigger vision started by Kal Holsti and Jenny Balke,” Hermanutz said.

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“As ecologists and scientists, we recognize the importance of Valens Brook in protecting the watershed, salmon, and the Coastal Douglas-fir region. Denman Islanders are conservation minded, so we hope the entire Valens Brook will someday be protected.”

Emmings said what happens to vegetation adjacent to creeks is very important. “It’s really important to keep the water temperature consistent and so shading from overhanging vegetation is very important and also, overhanging vegetation is also a source of food for things like bugs… and it helps them either to feed on or it feeds species that they (salmon) feed on.”

Holsti and Wan hoped their original donation would be the first of many along Valens Brook where numerous private properties border the stream and are critical to salmon protection.

Hermanutz and Innes hope, in turn, that their recent donation will inspire more to do the same.

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“In the Gulf Islands, private landowners hold the key to protecting the beauty and vitality of our natural environment,” said Kate-Louise Stamford, Chair of the Islands Trust Conservancy Board.

“We look forward to working with others who are inspired by the donations of their neighbours.”

The Valens Brook Nature Reserve was protected using Section 99 of B.C.’s Land Title Act which allows landowners to donate a portion of their land while retaining the remainder for their own use through a simplified subdivision process. Both lands were also donated through Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program.

About Islands Trust Conservancy

The Islands Trust Conservancy is the conservation land trust for Canada’s islands in the Salish Sea. Since 1990, the Islands Trust Conservancy has protected more than 1,270 hectares of natural island ecosystems.

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