Another island added to popular marine park between Quadra and Maurelle

The provincial government has acquired a 20-hectare island to add to the Octopus Islands Marine Park, a popular destination for boaters and hikers between Quadra Island and Maurelle Island in Okisollo Channel.

The acquisition this week with the help of a $100,000 donation from the B.C. Marine Parks Forever ­Society adds to the 862-hectare Octopus Islands Park. The group of small islands provides safe anchorages for boaters travelling the Inside Passage.

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The park also offers swimming, hiking, fishing, scuba diving and ­wilderness-camping opportunities. A portage route to Small Inlet Provincial Park on the west side of Quadra Island can be accessed from the Octopus Islands.

“It’s a good place to get away from it all,” said George Creek, president of the B.C. Marine Parks Forever Society. “It also has good anchorages and a hiking trail to a lake, which makes it a popular destination for boaters.”

Octopus Islands Marine ­Provincial Park was established in 1974 to ­provide opportunities for marine ­recreation and protect a fragile coastal western hemlock ecosystem and habitat for a variety of marine species.

The park has grown since then with the help of the B.C. Marine Parks Forever Society, a volunteer organization that raises funds to help B.C. Parks acquire land for new marine parks and enhance existing ones.

Since the society was founded in 1990 by the Council of B.C. Yacht Clubs, it has received more than $2 million in donations to purchase land for 10 marine parks, including the Octopus Islands. Three donations have been made for the Octopus Islands, including the most recent $100,000.

“I take a lot of pride in being able to contribute to the health of our marine parks,” Creek said. “If we don’t protect these areas, a lot of them could get taken over by commercial development.”

B.C. Parks area supervisor Derek Moore said the portage trail from Small Inlet Provincial Park on Quadra Island was heavily used by Indigenous peoples long before the park was established. The area, studied by archaeological researchers, is also home to clam gardens that provided food for coastal communities.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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