Greenways Land Trust Executive Director Cynthia Bendickson points out one particular area of concern within the Baikie Island Nature Reserve that hasn’t benefitted from replanting efforts due to soil compaction and pollution from its days as a log sort. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Greenways Land Trust gets $275K for restoration work on Baikie Island

Two-year project will start with the development of a 10-year plan for the area

In a year that’s been chock full of negatives, the Baikie Island Nature Reserve has received a piece of good news.

Cynthia Bendickson, executive director of Greenways Land Trust, says the environmental organization has received word that they will receive a $275,000 grant to continue its restoration work in the area.

“It’s super exciting,” Bendickson says. “It comes from the Environmental Damages Fund run through Environment and Climate Change Canada. The fund is actually made up of the fines from companies who have done environmental damage, so it’s really nice to be able to put that money to work in the estuary to do more restoration work.”

The money will go into a two-year project aimed at reclaiming some of the land that was damaged back when it was an industrial use area. Part of the area was restored back in the early 2000s, but a lot of it, Bendickson says, “was never touched.”

“There are still a lot of remnants from when it was being used industrially,” Bendickson says.

The first year of the project is going to be mainly developing a plan, doing archaelogical surveys, contamination surveys, looking at some areas where eelgrass was planted in the estuary about 15 years ago – some of it has taken really well and some of it hasn’t, Bendickson says, so they want to find out why that is – as well as looking at how to improve some salmon-spawning channels.

The second year of the project will be all about getting work done.

“In year two we start picking off a few projects from the plan and getting stuff going,” Bendickson says.

But one of the less glamourous – if environmental restoration work can ever be called glamourous – aspects of the funding announcement, Bendickson says, is that it should better position the organization for future granting opportunities.

While $275,000 sounds like a huge amount of money to some people, Bendickson says, it’s not going to go as far as some might think.

“Once you start talking about getting excavators and dump trucks and buying new soil and everything that is needed, well, that kind of work is expensive,” Bendickson says. “But the great thing about this money is that it will enable us to develop a 10-year plan, and once you have a solid plan in place, it’s a lot easier to go out and find more funding. Without a good plan, you’re not as competitive in a lot of situations when applying for grants.”

Bendickson says she’s especially looking forward to working in collaboration with local First Nations on the project, leveraging the money even further with their historical knowledge while supporting the work they’re doing at the same time.

“They’ve got some great stuff going on,” she says. “The Wei Wai Kum have their Guardians program doing great work down in the estuary, as well, so it will be great to work with them on some things. Greenways has always been about bringing people together to get good stuff done on the ground, and this money will enable us the opportunity to strengthen those relationships, getting more people involved in the process and hopefully be able to strengthen what they’re doing, too.”

Anyone with questions, or who would like to get involved in helping out with Greenways, can contact the organization by email at info@greenwaystrust.ca

RELATED: Large sections of Baikie Island still need major attention

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