In the Strait of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, sits Cortes Island, home to a pristine 153-acre forested property known locally as Hank’s Beach. The local community and visitors have hiked through the forest and enjoyed the quiet seclusion of the beach for many years. Columbian black-tailed deer, gray wolves and cougars extensively utilize a wildlife corridor on the property, and several sensitive ecosystems are represented, particularly on the bluffs above the beach. However, some years ago the property became threatened by potential development and logging. The vision of many in the community was to maintain the ecological integrity and mature forest ecosystems while allowing limited public access. In the mid-2000’s Renewal Partners, a Canadian organization, purchased Hank’s Beach as a first step in protecting it. Financed by an anonymous donor, Tides subsequently purchased the property from Renewal in 2008 and set out to implement the protection of the property in perpetuity.
Though the work may not seem glamorous, Tides’ expertise in infrastructure and project management allowed us to meet the legal and administrative challenges necessary to bring the vision to fruition. Tides developed a project plan, engaging lawyers, tax accountants, and a variety of consultants to help in the process. The first step was to create conservation covenants that were subsequently registered in favor of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia. Next Tides contracted with Eldron Consulting to coordinate and develop a management plan to document the biodiversity of the property and to establish a baseline for future monitoring. The management plan maintains the ecological integrity of the park land while allowing the public to appreciate its beauty.
To provide a permanent steward for the property, Tides gifted the title and an endowment fund to the Strathcona Regional District in June, and the Hank’s Beach Forest Conservation Park was formally established. In addition, the property was further protected at the federal level under the Ecological Gifts Program of Environment Canada.
On August 24th a dedication ceremony and celebration was held at Hank’s Beach Forest Conservation Park. In addition to the local community, representatives from Renewal Partners, The Land Conservancy of BC, the Strathcona Regional District, Environment Canada and Tides attended. Tides board member Joel Solomon, Maria Bernasconi, and I represented Tides at the event. It truly was a wonderful moment to see the culmination of years of effort and the collaborative work of so many people to protect and preserve this very special place.
View a slideshow of images of Hank’s beach:
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Lorenzo Ersland is the Finance Director of the Tides Foundation.
Dedication ceremony photo by Bill Weaver, Across Borders Media; used with permission.