When fresh water from rivers and streams meets the salt water of the ocean, biodiversity flourishes. Many species can only live in the brackish, mixed water of estuaries, and these special species are some of the most rare and endangered in the world.

Estuaries comprise only about 3% of BC’s coast but support 80% of all fish and wildlife in the province.

In 1987, The Nature Trust took a leadership role with other conservation partners, and federal and provincial government departments, to establish the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program (PECP) for the purpose of acquiring, protecting and enhancing estuaries along the B.C. coastline.

Now, The Nature Trust of BC has the opportunity to protect 320 acres (130 hectares) of land in the Shoal Creek Estuary near Port Neville on the mid coast of B.C.

Protecting Land

The Shoal Creek estuary is approximately 13 km east of Port Neville. The property consists of two parcels, the first of which was purchased last year. There are no buildings or structures on the property and the area is only accessible by water or air.

The property varies from sea level tidal flats to rising steep mountain slopes. While previously logged in the 1990s, the property is now representative of naturally regenerating forest.

This property lies on the Pacific Flyway, the migration route extending along the Pacific from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Millions of birds stopover in fresh water wetlands and estuaries each year along the flyway and protecting these areas are a high priority for conservation internationally.

A Class 2 Estuary

The PECP has ranked the Fulmore/Shoal Creek Estuary complex (which includes the Shoal Creek Estuary property) as importance Class 2, which means that across five ecological attributes the estuary scores within 60% to 80% of the maximum biological importance to waterbirds and waterfowl in British Columbia.

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Saving Species

The Shoal Creek Estuary provides habitat for a multitude of species throughout the year. Three species of salmon: Coho, Pink and Chum, use the estuary for rearing and feeding as they prepare to enter the ocean. The presence of these fish attracts Grizzly Bears, and many have been seen using the estuary to catch a salmon dinner.

Left to right: Marbled Murrelet, Grizzly Bear cub, Lyngbye’s Sedge (foreground)

At least nine bird species listed under the Species At Risk Act are known to use the estuary including Brandt’s Cormorant and Western Grebe (both listed as schedule 1 – endangered). Other threatened bird species dependent on this estuary include Barn Swallows, Black Scoters, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Herons, Long-tailed Ducks, Marbled Murrelets and Surf Scoters.

Perhaps the most rare and vulnerable are the plant communities that are located in this estuary – many of which only occur in temperate estuaries. These include tufted hairgrass – meadow barley, American glasswort – sea-milkwort, and Lyngbye’s Sedge herbaceous vegetation. Each of these ecological communities are Red-listed and considered endangered or threatened in the provincial database.

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We’ve reached our fundraising goal! Stay tuned for an announcement.

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