Hwmet’utsum/Mt Maxwell forest protection assured as community park fundraising campaign reaches goal

The Salt Spring Community Park campaign announced today that the initiative to raise the final $350,000 towards the purchase of 75 acres of forested land on Hwmet’utsum/Mount Maxwell has reached its goal ahead of the October 31, 2022 deadline, thanks to a final grassroots push, and a generous grant from the Salt Spring Island Foundation which was enabled by a grant from the Trust established for the estate of the late Susan Bloom.

“This is the end of a three-year process involving many stakeholders. I’m so proud of how the community has jumped in at the end to get us across the finish line,” said Elizabeth FitzZaland, Co-Chair of Salt Spring Solutions, the lead organizer in a large coalition of community groups that came together to save the land.

“So many islanders and friends of Salt Spring Island have contributed in different ways, from cash donations to organizing events, but we owe a special thank you to Foxglove Farm and Bullock Lake Farm for hosting two recent events that made all the difference. We’re deeply grateful to the Bloom AlterEco Trust for their timely generosity in helping us complete the funding and the Salt Spring Island Foundation as our charitable partner.”

The new 75 acre Salt Spring Community Park, which is located on the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people, will feature multi-use public trails on the northeast slope of Hwmet’utsum/Mt. Maxwell that will support the protection of sensitive ecosystems. Moving this land from private to community ownership will create the largest contiguous tract of protected land in B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands.

“This purchase safeguards the forest from further ecological degradation, development, and deforestation and brings enormous benefits to local biodiversity. Just as importantly, it will protect a significant area capable of sequestering carbon for the next seven generations, a critical component of local efforts to combat climate change,” said Briony Penn, Naturalist and long-time supporter of the campaign

The new community park will feature sanctioned and managed recreation trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, disc golfing, and hiking. Creating community support for this new park and getting people out on the land connecting to it on a personal level will help to relieve the pressure these activities are placing on more environmentally sensitive areas.

Campaign fundraising advisor Christopher Roy adds, “Reaching our fundraising goal is a tremendous acknowledgment of the support we have received from all of our donors, big and small, along with all the volunteers, partner organizations, and local businesses who gave generously to help us secure funding for this acquisition. This achievement sets the stage for creating the first new multi-use park on the island in a generation. Now we begin the work that meaningfully engages local Coast Salish elders and community members, the environmental community, and youth in planning, protecting and enjoying this new recreation resource on Salt Spring Island.”

Further donations received by the Salt Spring Island Foundation’s Land Protection Fund, up to and including those dated October 31, 2022, will be tax receiptable and will contribute to the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) fund for planning, designing and implementing the park.

Once the purchase is finalized, the CRD’s Parks and Recreation Commission will begin to engage the community in the development of a management plan for the land.

The Salt Spring Community Park Campaign respectfully acknowledges that we live and work within the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples.