The Wild Coast Nature Refuge

This photo was taken at the Nature Refuge, looking West.

A successful outcome

In October 2019 we started on a journey, after learning that funding for land acquisition would be available from private sources, towards establishing a 32 acre waterfront conservation area at Cape Roger Curtis. And on December 16th 2020 we took possession of the 32 acres, after negotiating the offer to purchase in mid-October of 2020. Our much-desired waterfront conservation area—the Wild Coast Nature Refuge—is a reality!

What is planned for the Nature Refuge?

The Nature Refuge is extremely beautiful. Whales swim past just off the lichen-covered cliffs, a little way from a peaceful forest. With the support of the Bowen Island Municipality we have placed a Conservation Covenant on the lands in perpetuity, to protect the rare coast bluff ecosystem that’s present, and make it possible to remedy the damage done by preliminary development activities.

Our Management Plan lays out our objectives for the area. Above all, we are keen to protect and preserve the natural ecosystems, biological diversity and natural characteristics of the Nature Refuge and shoreline marine ecosystems, including plants, fish, animals, sensitive areas, water quality and stream flow regimes. We will allow natural ecological processes to function with minimal human interference, except in the case of wildfire and restoration. Balanced against this we want to allow the public to quietly enjoy the Nature Refuge by providing walking opportunities, while minimizing impacts on wildlife and the natural environment.

Where is the Nature Refuge?

The exact location of Nature Refuge is shown on the map below.

Map showing conservation area at Cape Roger Curtis
Map showing location of the Wild Coast Nature Refuge.

Is the Nature Refuge open for visitors?

We have established a loop trail that connects to viewpoints on the coastal bluffs (see the map below). You are welcome to use the trail and enjoy the beauty of the Nature Refuge. But please do not stray off the trail, and do not walk on the cliffs, which are very environmentally sensitive areas and easily damaged. Also note that the Western portion of the area has been designated a Nature Sanctuary and is not open to visitors at all.

We need everyone’s help to protect these lands

We have been doing all we can, since acquiring the lands, to give the wild plants and animals there the best chance of survival. Our planning decisions are based on a deep understanding of the local environment, and much research, and this has guided us in determining where to place trails, how and where to best monitor species, what to do about invasive species, and how to deal with the issue of dogs. We need everyone’s help to assist this natural recovery and to ensure that our impact on the Nature Refuge is as light as possible. To that end, we are prohibiting dogs from the Wild Coast Nature Refuge.

Why aren’t dogs allowed in the Nature Refuge?

Birds and other animals think of dogs–even the friendliest ones–as predators. Animals have a keen sense of sight, smell and hearing; the presence of a dog, even on a leash, will disrupt their normal behaviours. We also know that in natural areas where dogs are not allowed, people see more wildlife and can get closer to it.

Before making the decision to prohibit dogs from the Nature Refuge the Conservancy Board reviewed many scientific studies and papers on the topic. One of the most comprehensive documents we found was compiled by the City of Portland (OR) Metro Parks and Nature Department: “The impacts of dogs on wildlife and water quality: A literature review“. We recommend reading this document to understand our decision.

There are many options on the island–several close to the Wild Coast Nature Refuge–where people can spend time outdoors with their dogs; the map below shows the places in the area. But the Nature Refuge is a one-of-a-kind place offering people a unique experience, and it has to be protected.

Thoughts from our donors

“We are grateful to be a part of the campaign to create a new conservation area on Bowen. We were touched by the commitment and dedication of the people involved in making it happen.

We hope the new refuge will create a lot of wonderful memories for everyone who visits and will generate a lot of interest in the Bowen Island Conservancy’s work.”

Management Plan

The Management Plan for the Nature Refuge has been approved by the Conservancy Board, and will guide the short-term and long-term management of the lands.

Click on a photo below to see the full size image

Walking to the waterfront at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge
Walking through the forest down to the water (July 2020)
Looking at the ocean
A view from the Wild Coast Nature Refuge, looking at the ocean
Looking East from the cliffs at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge
Looking East from the cliffs at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge. Downtown Vancouver is not far away (October 2020)
Looking West from the cliffs at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge
Looking West from the cliffs at the Nature Refuge. Texada Island is far off in the distance (October 2020)
An otter at Cape Roger Curtis
An otter on the rocky foreshore

We’re grateful for support

We are very grateful for support from the community as our plans for the Wild Coast Nature Refuge have taken shape. Many individuals have committed hours of their time to make the area what it is today. And, this support is ongoing.

We are also grateful to the Bowen Island Municipality for their assistance with obtaining a conservation covenant on the lands, and for their exemption from property taxes.