Denman Conservancy Association (DCA) was registered as a Society in May 1991 to preserve, protect and enhance the quality of the natural and human environment of Denman Island. (see initial call for members – April 1991)
A volunteer organization supported by approximately 200 members, DCA promotes a strong ethic of land stewardship through public education, research and community participation. The Association has acquired land to preserve forests, wetlands and other ecologically sensitive habitats. This land has been set aside in perpetuity to preserve its natural heritage.
Beginning in 1991 DCA raised funds to buy the 2 parcel 9-hectare Pickles Road Woods, which was then transferred to the Islands Trust Fund (ITF) for preservation. This was the first property to be owned by the newly created ITF. Adjacent to an existing 23 hectare nature reserve surrounding a large beaver pond, these parcels make up the Inner Island Nature Reserve.
The preservation of the Lindsay-Dickson Forest, a 54-hectare parcel of woodland and natural foreshore, was a priority of DCA from its first days. Saving this prime example of the Coastal Douglas fir biogeoclimatic zone, one of the last remaining examples on the Gulf Islands, took ten years of intense negotiating, fund raising and lobbying of governments. DCA’s efforts were rewarded in June 2001 when the Islands Trust Fund acquired the property. It is now managed by DCA as the Lindsay Dickson Nature Reserve.
DCA supports Island landowners in the stewardship of the natural habitats on their own land. Our Stewardship Project (1997 – 99) secured a commitment from 114 private landowners stewarding 470 hectares.
Early in its history DCA created the Denman Island Country Home and Garden Tour as a key fundraising annual event. It takes over a hundred volunteers to stage this event, not to mention the generous homeowners who open their homes and gardens to the thousand or more visitors on the tour weekend. Currently the Tour is held every second year.
In 1997 when one-third of the island was severely threatened by industrial-scale logging, DCA started its Legacy Project. Of the 9 highly sensitive areas identified, the 32 hectare Chickadee Lake parcel became the priority. see: Newsletter October 2001 Despite raising pledges of sufficient funds and making two offers DCA did not acquire this land.
In August of 2000, thanks to generous community support, DCA purchased the 2.5 hectare parcel now called Winter Wren Wood. Abutting the Chickadee Lake parcel and linking Crown Lands, the property helped to build the protective ring around Chickadee Lake that, in 2010, became the core of the Denman_Island_Provincial Park lands. Winter Wren Wood features a nature trail and boardwalk used by the public and local primary school students, for pleasure as well as for educational purposes.
In late 2005, the 64 hectare Settlement Lands were acquired as part of the settlement of the DCA’s legal case against 4064 Investments Ltd. It was here that the first specimens of the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly were found by a DCA member. The butterfly is now also established in other locations on Denman Island.
DCA acquired Central Park (60 hectares) in September, 2006 and retired the mortgage in 2009 with the generous support of the community. The Central Park Vision promoted the idea of a chain of protected land stretching from the middle of the Island to Chickadee Lake that was realized in 2010 when the Provincial Park land was secured. Central Park is heavily used; its walking trails for pedestrians (2 and 4 footed) are open to the public.
With Morrison Marsh Nature Reserve protected and conservation covenants over Komas Bluff, Railway Grade Marsh and Danes Creek, DCA has, in recent years, focused more on land management and stewardship, and less on land acquisition.
In 2009 DCA agreed to donate one hectare of Central Park land to the newly formed Denman Island Memorial Society (DIMS) for a natural burial cemetery, subject to a conservation covenant requiring that the land will eventually revert to a natural landscape of native vegetation.
In 2010 the provincial Department of Environment acquired extensive lands on Denman Island, including the Chickadee Lake parcel, for a Provincial Park. The Island’s remaining Crown Lands are also included in the new Park. ( see map of Denman Island Provincial Park) These lands adjoin much of the land already protected by DCA. Altogether 6 of the 9 sensitive areas identified in 1997 for the Legacy Project have now been protected. Compared with the 5% of the Island that was protected when DCA was founded, now 25% of Denman Island is protected as Park or conservation land.
In 2011 – 12 DCA’s “Landkeepers” program trained volunteers of all ages to help DCA manage the six properties under its care.
DCA celebrated its ‘Coming of Age’ 21st birthday in 2012 with a gala presentation by Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio Quirks and Quarks.
In 2013 DCA completed the donation of the hectare of land at the corner of Central Park to Denman Island Memorial Society (DIMS) for the creation of a Natural Burial Cemetery. The use of the land as a Natural Burial Cemetery is controlled by a conservation covenant held by DCA and a Management Plan agreed between DCA and DIMS.
photo by John Millen