A unique and diverse section of rivers, home to a rare species of lamprey, may be bought to protect the ecosystem for future generations.
The Morrison Creek forest and wetlands ecosystem spans 289 hectares and is home to the Morrison Creek Lamprey, an endemic fish that is found nowhere else in the world.
The unique species was found by the daughter of Janet Gemmell and Jim Palmer almost two decades ago.
Over 12 different cool water springs supply the area, according to BC Parks, making it very resilient to climate change effects and drought.
The environment also makes the area a stronghold for salmon and the most productive river system of its size on the Island.
The land is currently owned by a multinational company with municipal zoning for heavy industry. An agreement was made between the parties to purchase the land, with a total project cost of around $4.75 million.
A crowdfunding campaign hopes to raise the remaining $375,000 by Dec. 31, and the purchase will keep the area from being logged or developed.
Fifty-four acres of land are already protected after the land trust bought it in 2019. They have raised $200,000 locally and secured pledges for $200,000 each from the Sitka Foundation and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
Another $1,340,000 was raised from Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the BC Parks Foundation has committed $1,625,000 to the project.
They say more grant applications are in the works, but the goal was still far out of reach until recently.
The land also carries strong significance for the K’ómoks First Nation, known as “qax mot” or “lots of medicine.”
“The expansion of “qax mot” throughout the Morrison Creek headwaters, will continue to support this critical area of natural habitat, abundance, and medicines and in doing so will maintain this area which is so important to salmon and in turn the culture and heritage of the K’ómoks First Nation,” said Hegus (Chief) Nicole Rempel of the K’ómoks Nation.
Andy Day of the BC Parks Foundation says the area is also important for the education of our natural environment.
“This is a fantastic, special place and all kinds of people, clubs, schools, and businesses want to make a difference and get involved in protecting it,” said Day.
“The positive crowdfunding energy feels like salmon determined to get home to those freshwater springs, giving to the next generation. It’s very inspiring to be a part of it.”
Those who would like to contribute to the project can go to the BC Parks Foundation website.