Morrison Creek Headwaters Campaign

UPDATE! Our crowdfunding goal for protecting Morrison Headwaters has been successfully reached but we’re still accepting your donations as these extra funds will ensure the campaign’s overall success.

We are now waiting on word from several grant applications to complete the overall funding required.  The purchase will likely close in the months ahead. We look forward to celebrating this success with our supporters!

We are excited to announce a campaign to protect 289 hectares of forest and wetlands nestled between the City of Courtenay and the Village of Cumberland. Known as the Morrison Creek Headwaters, it is home to four species of salmon, three species of trout, and wildlife such as elk, bears, beavers, pine martens and cougars. It is also the only home on Earth to the unique and endangered Morrison Creek lamprey.

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However, this large and beautiful natural sanctuary is privately owned by a multi-national company and its current municipal zoning is for heavy industry.

To protect this phenomenal natural area, in partnership with BC Parks Foundation, we are now working on this community campaign to raise $375,000. We have the opportunity to act now to complete the purchase and close the deal before the clock runs out.

This acquisition would be added to the 22-hectare parcel we acquired together with the Comox Valley Regional District in 2019. It is located in the territory of the K’omoks First Nation, who refer to the area as “qax mot” or “lots of medicine” in relation to the abundance and diversity of medicinal plants the area supports. The labyrinth of beaver-created wetlands, swamps and riparian areas are home for wildlife of all kinds.

The full land purchase (715 acres across three parcels – see more information below) is partially funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the BC Parks Foundation, and several other foundations.

Protect this land, today.

This project is also supported by:

Two local families are kick-starting the fundraising campaign with pledges to match donations.

Courtenay resident Tom Grimmer and family have pledged to match up to $50,000 towards the purchase.

Photo credit: Rick Helmer

Rick Helmer and Gael Arthur have pledged to match up to $25,000 of donated funds.

Photo credit: David Darvill

Why is Morrison Headwaters So Important?

Over a dozen species at risk have been identified on the property including mammals, fish, amphibians, birds and a reptile. The Morrison Creek lamprey is known only from the Morrison Creek watershed, and is considered endangered by both the Province of BC and the Government of Canada.

Critical Habitat for the lamprey as well as for the Pacific population of Western Painted Turtle have recently been proposed under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) in extensive areas of the Morrison headwaters.

  • Morrison Creek is the only place on earth that supports the Endangered Morrison Creek Lamprey, an endemic fish species found nowhere else in the world. The headwaters area contains the vast majority of Critical Habitat for this species.
  • Morrison Creek is the most productive salmon stream of its size anywhere on southeast Vancouver Island (according to DFO) and one that is entirely without hatchery support. The headwaters area provides the majority of spawning and rearing habitat for Coho in particular.
  • Its unique spring-fed hydrology makes it resilient to climate change. Regardless of how long or pronounced summer droughts may be, Morrison Creek always flows with abundant, cold, spring-fed water.
  • Morrison Headwaters supports an additional 13 species at risk including federally Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern species and provincially red and blue-listed species.
  • All ecological communities that occur in the headwaters area are rare-listed (either blue or red) by the BC Conservation Data Centre.
  • Populations of bear, cougar, deer, beaver, mink, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, bats, insects and occasionally elk and wolves live throughout the area free from human disturbances.

Project Goals

The Morrison headwaters was identified by Comox Valley Land Trust’s(CVLT) science-based conservation plan as a top-priority for conservation in the Comox Valley based on its high viability, high threat (agricultural and industrial development) and high opportunities scores.

Landscape-Scale Conservation

The Morrison Creek headwaters conservation area is a major puzzle piece in a growing network of protected areas centered around the eastern portion of Comox Lake, the Puntledge River and the K’omoks estuary. Projects have secured thousands of acres in the area through coordinated and sustained efforts spanning decades.

Most recently, this has included the acquisition of:

  • phase-1 in the Morrison headwaters area by the Comox Valley Land Trust and the Comox Valley Regional District
  • the entire mainstem of Perseverance Creek spearheaded by the Cumberland Community Forest Society and the Village of Cumberland
  • the Kus-kus-sum project in the K’omoks estuary lead by Project Watershed, the K’omoks First Nation and the City of Courtenay

Local governments and the K’omoks First Nation have been strong partners in achieving this landscape-scale conservation vision for a variety of reasons, including the protection of drinking water supply areas.

The land parcel in question is currently zoned for industrial uses and is owned by a multinational investment company.

Once purchased, it will be protected from logging and development forever. 

This project is being undertaken with the financial support of:

Ce projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier de: