Cable Bay: A Biodiversity Hotspot At Risk

Along the eastern shores of Galiano Island lies a stretch of sandstone beach connected to 1,500 protected acres of rare coastal Douglas-fir habitats. This is Cable Bay, a favorite spot for islanders and visitors alike, and one of the most important biodiversity hotspots on Galiano’s Georgia Strait coastline. The Nature Trust of British Columbia and the Galiano Conservancy Association are working together to acquire 65 acres at Cable Bay to extend the protected areas that span the island. The Cable Bay property is zoned for a housing subdivision and we must act quickly to save it forever.

View north from Cable Bay beach

Cultural and Ecological Values

Cable Bay is part of an intact watershed on the mid-coast of Galiano, with a creek that emerges from the Great Beaver Swamp, a large wetland within the neighbouring protected area. Saving the Cable Bay property will help protect the entire watershed, including the stream and riparian areas that are rich in biodiversity but also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and development. The beach at Cable Bay has long been a coveted spot for island families and visitors to enjoy the waters of the Salish Sea. Any development on this property has the potential to significantly impact the view and experience of people seeking a connection with nature.

Part of the traditional and unceded territories of the Penelakut, Hwlitsum, and other Hulquminum-speaking peoples, the bay has a long history as an important site to rest, gather provisions, and wait for good weather for Coast Salish travelling across the Strait of Georgia. Canoes could be portaged to the bay from Trincomali Channel, across the narrowest part of Galiano Island.

In recent times, the Cable Bay lands have been owned by one family for over 60 years and have been relatively undisturbed for nearly a century. The property features a mix of Douglas-fir, arbutus, maple and cedar trees with an extensive understory of salal, mossy outcrops and oceanspray. It has seasonal creeks and springs that weave through cedar forest, leading to a sandstone shoreline and abundant marine life. A number of old-growth trees remain along the forest edges and there is a grove of Pacific yew trees.

Vital Habitat for Threatened Species

Cable Bay and its adjacent network are an important remnant of the Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone. As home to the highest number of species and ecosystems at risk in B.C., many of which are ranked globally as imperiled or critically imperiled, this zone is of great conservation concern. Only 11% of the zone is under protected area status.

Protecting these forests helps maintain habitat for native plants and wildlife species. Healthy forests also benefit people by purifying air and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Cable Bay is a haven for resident and migratory birds, intertidal life, fish and marine mammals. The nutrient-rich waters serve as excellent nurseries for young fish and are an ideal environment for overwintering birds, including buffleheads, harlequins, and multiple species of loons, grebes, goldeneyes, mergansers, scoters, geese, ducks, and gulls.

Red and Blue-listed species known to frequent the property or adjacent coastline include horned grebe, great blue heron, olive-sided flycatcher, barn swallow, California gull, surf scoter, band-tailed pigeon, double-crested cormorant, Brandt’s cormorant, purple martin, common murre, marbled murrelet, Stellar sea lion, and red-legged frog.

Protected through Partnership

Partnerships have been critical to saving endangered habitat on Galiano Island. Generous donors both on island and beyond, along with government and conservancy partners, have helped to create an important protected corridor of 1500 acres that spans the width of the island, from Trincomali Channel to Georgia Strait. If we can acquire the Cable Bay property before it is sold for development, we can extend the biodiversity network that links Crown land, provincial park, and conservation lands. Once acquired, the property will be protected in perpetuity as a conservation area, with NTBC holding title, and the Galiano Conservancy participating in its long-term management.

Project Goal

The total cost to acquire the Cable Bay property and create a land management endowment is over $2.35 million. Thanks to visionary donors and funders who have embraced this rare conservation opportunity, GCA and NTBC have jointly raised over $2.25 million. We are almost there.

We need to raise the last $100,000 by December 1, 2021.

Bob and Denise Campbell of Montague Harbour have generously pledged to match all funds raised up to $50,000 to help us reach our final goal.

“It’s important that we come together to seize the infrequent and often one-time opportunities to perpetually protect land with high environmental values. My wife and I also want to demonstrate that Galiano homeowners who may not be full-time residents share a deep appreciation of Galiano Island and its endangered ecosystems.”

— Bob Campbell, former GCA Board member & past contributor to GCA land purchases.

The Conservancy is asking the Galiano community to join in protecting Cable Bay. We are grateful for gifts of all sizes.

Please click the button below, or email savecablebay@galianoconservancy.ca to discuss other ways to donate. Thanks to the Campbells’ matching pledge, your gift will double in value.

Your generous donation today will help us protect this beautiful property forever.