The tree loving, forest-buying, self-sufficient members of the community of Read Island are back to buy more forest land to preserve, a month after buying 20 acres of land.
Recently the Surge Narrows Community Association, consisting of members from the the islands of Read, Maurelle, Rendezvous, and Owen Bay on Sonora Island, raised funds to buy 20 acres of forest land on Read Island, which is located at the top of the Strait of Georgia near Quadra and Cortes.
They began raising funds for this plot of land, ‘Lot 302,’ that belonged to a Read island couple in October 2019 and within three to four months they raised approximately $200,000 through crowd funding site GoFundMe and other donations.
After buying the land for $150,000, followed by legal feels and all other associated costs, they had a surplus. The community will use this amount to invest in another stretch of old-growth forest and sensitive ecosystems, said Rosie Steeves one of the directors of the Surge Narrows Community Association.
“I believe we may have an additional $50,000 left and we will use that money to purchase more land and protect it,” Steeves said.
This will be the third project the community undertakes to buy forest, with Surge Narrow residents raising $78,000 back in 1992 to purchase their first 20 acres of forest land, the ‘Lot 309’ Fish and Forest Reserve. With the purchase of ‘Lot 302,’ the community has created a 40-acre ecological reserve.
The land will eventually be transferred over to the Strathcona Regional District once the covenants to ensure the land is completely protected are ready.
A landmark event for the community, Steeves said that it reflected the energy of the community and how everyone wanted to protect this small island from logging.
“The degree and percentage of logging on such a small island was distressing and for a very long time people on the island felt helpless about it,” Steeves said.
Which is why, once the opportunity presented itself, almost everyone jumped in and contributed for ‘Lot 302’.
“People don’t have big incomes here and despite that, they donated generously,” she said and added this collective effort generated a lot of “energy” and “positive feeling.”
For a small island with a population of around 50 to 100 residents to pull off this feat is a game changer, says Steeves who feels that this could set an example for a lot of other places that want to save their environments.
“Everybody is blown away, not only by how we did it but also how quickly we did it, “ said Steeves, and added “If we can do it, a lot of folks can too.”
Steeves said that the age of internet helped further the conservation, a tool that was not previously available to the generation that took two to three years to raise funds back in 1992.
External funding came in from people outside the region too, who heard about the cause and wanted to support this act of preservation.
Some of the residents who lived on Read Island in the past and have shared histories with the land also came forward to donate money.