Link Island near Nanaimo, British Columbia donated to conservation groups

A 21.45-hectare island off the coast of Vancouver Island has been donated to the Islands Trust Conservancy, the largest donation the organization has ever received.

Environmentalist Betty Swift donated Link Island to environmental groups upon her death.

The island, which lies between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island, is valued by BC Assessment at about $3.73 million, according to the Islands Trust Conservancy.

Link islands are displayed. (Carmen Smith/Islands Trust Conservancy)

It sits between Mudge Island and DeCourcy Island and even connects to both islands at low tide.

Link Island has more than three kilometers of coastline with unique ecosystems such as sandstone formations and tidal flats, according to the Islands Trust Conservancy.

It is also home to threatened trees and animals such as the western screech owl, barn swallow and great blue heron.

A western screech owl appears on Link Island. (Ren Ferguson)

The island is closed to the public and will exist as a nature preserve, but will remain available to Swift’s children and grandchildren at her request.

“This gift is about the future,” Swift’s daughter, Barbara Swift, said at a news conference Tuesday. “This is a gift to all of us.”

A management plan for the island is still being developed by the Islands Trust Conservancy, which intends to discuss the details with local Aboriginal people.

Swift hopes to one day use the island to study climate change in the Salish Sea, according to the Islands Trust Conservancy.

Meanwhile, the group has established conservation deeds for the island with the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust.

“Reserving an entire island as conservation land is a very rare thing to do,” Paul Chapman of the Nanaimo and Regional Land Trust said in a news release.

“I’m excited to see what we can do with this unique opportunity and work together to find innovative ways to fight climate change.”

The Islands Trust Conservancy manages land on more than 450 islands in the Salish Sea in British Columbia.

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