The green outline is land to be donated by French Creek House Ltd., for an eagle preserve. (FFCS map)

The green outline is land to be donated by French Creek House Ltd., for an eagle preserve. (FFCS map)

Conservation groups aim to raise $500K for eagle preserve at French Creek Estuary

Biologists host walking tour to illustrate area’s importance

Two conservation groups are raising funds to preserve the French Creek Estuary, aiming to create the first eagle preserve on Vancouver Island.

The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and Save Estuary Land Society have been working hand-in-hand to achieve the goal.

The estuary, located near Columbia Drive between the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach, is 23 acres of forested land. French Creek House is poised to gift over 12 acres of their land to the community for the Eagle Preserve and would prefer to sell their remaining five acres for conservation to add to the preserve.

The FFCCS and SELS aim to raise $500,000 toward the purchase of the remaining five acres to add them to eagle preserve they want to establish at the estuary. Their efforts have attracted major support.

One supporter is Joyce Butler of Victoria, who has offered to match donations up to $20,000 until Aug. 31, in memory of her late husband Thomas, who loved and spent time in the area. A local resident, who wanted to remain anonymous and is concerned about the loss of forests in the area, donated $20,000 on July 29.

A walking tour of the estuary was recently held to raise awareness of the efforts to preserve the land. It was attended by Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker, Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) director Lehann Wallace, Qualicum Beach Coun. Anne Skipsey, president of the Qualicum Beach Sunrise Rotary Club Ken Walker and Bob Colclough, representative for the property owner, French Creek House Ltd.

Biologists Dave Clough and Ross Petersen led the tour and spoke about the environmental significance of protecting and preserving the estuary to support fish and wildlife populations.

Clough caught the attention of everyone when he waded into the creek and emerged with minnow-like stickleback fish. He explained they are they favourite food of sea-run cutthroat trout and everything else from sculpins to mergansers.

“I am thankful for the efforts of the Save Estuary Land Society and the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society to protect our environment and precious ecosystems,” said Walker. “Their advocacy will go a long way for habitat preservation and restoration for countless species.”

Last year, the Hancock Wildlife Foundation built the first artificial nest for eagles at the French Cree Estuary.

Biologist David Hancock proposed the estuary to become an eagle preserve due to the area’s significance for nesting and northern wintering eagles.

“It’s an incredibly diverse and rich habitat supporting 180 species of birds, over 60 species of waterfowl, salmon, river otters, beaver and many other species of wildlife,” Hancock stated at the time.

Anyone wishing to donate can find out more by going to saveestuarylandsociety.ca

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