Along the eastern shores of Galiano Island lies a stretch of sandstone beach connected to 1,500 protected acres of rare coastal Douglas-fir habitats. This is Cable Bay, one of the most important biodiversity hotspots on Galiano’s Georgia Strait coastline.

The Nature Trust of British Columbia and the Galiano Conservancy Association are working together to acquire 65 acres at Cable Bay to extend the protected areas that span the island. The property is zoned for a housing subdivision but we are very close to raising the funds needed to preserve it in perpetuity.

photo by Frieda Weinert

Protecting Land

Part of the traditional and unceded territories of the Penelakut, Hwlitsum, and other Hulquminum-speaking peoples, the bay has a long history as an important site to rest, gather provisions, and wait for good weather for Coast Salish travelling across the Strait of Georgia. Canoes could be portaged to the bay from Trincomali Channel, across the narrowest part of Galiano Island.

Mossy Grove | photo by Frieda Weinert

In recent times, the Cable Bay lands have been owned by one family for over 60 years and have been relatively undisturbed for nearly a century. The property features a mix of Douglas-fir, arbutus and cedar trees with an extensive understory of salal, mossy outcrops and oceanspray. It has seasonal creeks and springs that weave through cedar forest, leading to a sandstone shoreline and abundant marine life. A number of old-growth trees remain along the forest edges and there is a grove of Pacific yew trees.

“The forest at Cable Bay is diverse and vibrant, with impressive stands of firs and cedars, majestic groves of towering maples, and sounds of bird life all around. The shoreline is pristine – lush and rocky, with seals, otters and sea birds ever present – a piece of wilderness with a panoramic view of the Salish Sea.

— Chessi Miltner, Executive Director, Galiano Conservancy Association

Saving Species

Cable Bay and its adjacent network are an important remnant of the Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. As home to the highest number of species and ecosystems at risk in B.C., many of which are ranked globally as imperiled or critically imperiled, this zone is of great conservation concern. Only 11% of the zone is under protected area status.

Protecting these forests helps maintain habitat for native plants and wildlife species. Healthy forests also benefit people by purifying air and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Cable Bay is a haven for resident and migratory birds, intertidal life, fish and marine mammals. The nutrient-rich waters serve as excellent nurseries for young fish and are an ideal environment for overwintering birds, including buffleheads, harlequins, and multiple species of loons, grebes, goldeneyes, mergansers, scoters, geese, ducks, and gulls.

Red and Blue-listed species known to frequent the property or adjacent coastline include horned grebe, great blue heron, brant, olive-sided flycatcher, barn swallow, California gull, surf scoter, band-tailed pigeon, double-crested cormorant, Brandt’s cormorant, purple martin, common murre, marbled murrelet, Steller sea lion, and red-legged frog.