CRD contributing $2M to preserve 20 hectares of forest in Saanich

The Capital Regional District is contributing $2 million and partnering with the Habitat Acquisition Trust to ensure a 20-hectare property remains untouched forest land.

In total, $3.4 million will be spent to acquire the Mountain Road Forest property, which is situated between Beaver Lake and Prospect Lake, just west of Interurban Road.

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“The CRD recognizes the high conservation values of the property on Mountain Road,” said CRD board chairman Colin Plant. “This purchase is an example of working together to ensure the natural areas we enjoy today continue to benefit future generations.”

The CRD will fund the acquisition through the Regional Parks Land Acquisition Fund, but it is contingent on the remainder of the purchase price being funded through community fundraising and a donation by the landowner.

The landowners have committed $200,000 to the project, while Habitat Acquisition Trust aims to raise the other $1.2 million before April 22, 2021.

The property, at 4692 Mountain Rd., was most recently assessed at $2.99 million. Land-title documents indicate that it is owned by the Barer family.

It contains mature, second-growth Douglas fir, Garry oak meadow, rock outcrops, and arbutus stands. There are also pockets of old-growth trees. A spring-fed stream that transects the property is part of the headwaters of the Colquitz River system.

Katie Blake, executive director of the trust, said the group expects public affection and support for the property will translate into the charitable dollars.

The owners have welcomed recreational use of the land for nearly 50 years, and have been seeking a “green” result for it for more than 10.

“This is one of the last stands between Interurban Road and Prospect Lake that is available for protection and survives as a mature example of our diminishing South Island forests,” said area resident Lorrie Adam, who bought five acres adjacent to the forest 50 years ago.

The Habitat Acquisition Trust is urging walkers, hikers, forest lovers and budding naturalists to contribute to the fundraising drive.

More information is available at mountainroadforest.ca.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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