In season of giving, British Columbia couple donate their piece of wilderness to the Nature Conservancy of Canada
A piece of virgin land in the Bella Coola Valley will remain untouched after a couple from British Columbia donated the land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Harvey and Carol Thommasen purchased 122 hectares of riverside land in 2018 with the intention of making it a bird sanctuary and protecting it.
Since then, the region has been a thriving rainforest, floodplain, and riparian habitat that supports an abundance of forest fires and plant diversity. It is also home to thriving grizzly bears and many other animals.
“Harvey, who is the donor, he has installed several wildlife cameras in the area and he has videos of beavers, cougars, wolves and deer,” said Steven Godfrey, West Coast program director.
Once a doctor, Harvey’s passion was conservation and he even wrote a book on the birds of the central coast.
The area is adjacent to the traditional Nuxalk village site of Nutl’lhiixw and the present-day Burnt Bridge Conservancy, which is home to a grove of old red cedars.
Godfrey says the Nature Conservancy of Canada has received consent from the Nuxalk First Nation to work in the area and will continue to work closely with them.
“We are grateful to the Nukalk Nation for their trust in us to care for this part of their ancestral land, as well as for the vision and commitment of Harvey and Carol to protecting this land,” said Godfrey. “Its conservation value is significant, particularly for the riparian habitat it provides for juvenile coho and pink salmon, and its importance to grizzly bears, wolves and many other wildlife. “
A Nuxalk Nation councilor says they are committed to protecting vulnerable ecosystems in their land.
“We have supported the Nature Conservancy of Canada in managing this area because we believe they will be able to protect this land for our Putl’lt – the unborn ones,” says Iris Siwallace.
As for future plans for the property, Godfrey says they will remain intact.
“Most of the time, we just want to see it kept in its natural state as much as possible,” he says. “We can manage invasive species or put up access signs if needed, but most of the time we want to manage them to maximize their conservation value. “
Godfrey explains that land and valley bottoms tend to be converted for agricultural purposes or are often used for logging.
“It’s really important to have land set aside for its ecological value and its wildlife habitat,” he says.
The location is not accessible to the public, but there are trails in nearby provincial parks.