The Railway Grade Marsh Complex covenant area is 31.5 hectares (77.8 acres). The covenant area is located on the north end of Denman Island within lands, owned since 2010 by the provincial Department of Environment, to be dedicated as a Provincial Park. The covenant was granted to the DCA as part of the settlement of a legal suit brought against the area’s former owner 4064 Investments Ltd. who logged 80% of the intended covenant area in the year 2000. Though the logging significantly impacted the covenant area, the wetland complexes appear to be functional and still support a diverse community of flora and fauna. In particular, the use of the open water areas by waterfowl is significant.
The covenant area is made up of three marshes and a connecting creek system that exhibit 3 major vegetation types representative of open water, marsh edge and some stands of forest. Notably, at the upstream (southern end) of the system is a sphagnum bog with a patch of ombriotrophic sphagnum, which is unique to Denman Island. Two rare ecosystems have been identified in the covenant area – the red-listed shorepine/peat-mosses and small pockets of the blue-listed common cattail Marsh. The endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly is found in the area.
The covenant area has a rich history of logging dating back to the early 1900s including a logging railway that paralleled the marsh system giving the area its name. Prior to the recent logging, hikers to this area encountered mossy mounds across the trail in the pattern of the old railway ties dating from the 1920s and 30s. Three hand-excavated cuttings are found along the old Railway Grade.
The management of the area will be governed by the intent of the covenant which is:
- “to protect, preserve, conserve, and maintain, enhance or restore the Covenant Area, and the Amenities, in a Natural State…
- to prevent any occupation or use of the Covenant Area that will impair to interfere with the Natural State of the Covenant Area or the Amenities…
- to provide, at the Covenant Holder’s sole discretion, limited public access… to portions of the Covenant Area.”
The covenant provides for the creation of a Management Plan at the discretion of DCA.
Some public access is currently available to the covenant area, along the alignment of the old logging railway grade. It is envisioned that the Management Plan will give guidance to any trail improvement as well as any restoration activities, if warranted in areas that have not recovered from the recent logging. Public access is at the sole discretion of the covenant holder and is subject to DCA’s regulation as to time, place and amount of access as required for safety purposes or the protection of wildlife. It is noted that an existing gravel road crosses the covenant area in proximity to the sphagnum moss marsh. The covenant provides for the extinguishment of any vehicle use of this road after 2011 and the re-naturalization of the road.
Download the covenant documents:
Part 1, Legal property description and signatures. (pdf 700 kb)
Part 2, Terms and Conditions (pdf 9 Mb)
Schedules A and B: Reference Plan of Covenant Area and Baseline Summary (pdf 3.6 Mb)