A section of pristine beach with important First Nations cultural significance will become the Islands Trust Conservancy’s 30th nature reserve.
Located on the southwest shoreline of Lhek’̱tines/ ́ Keats Island, Sandy Beach includes 3.4 hectares (8.4 acres) of coastal Douglas-fir forest and over 250 metres of beachfront. The property provides suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species including birds, such as the Northern Goshawk, Great Blue Heron, and the Olive-sided Flycatcher, and the Little Brown Myotis bat. The beach has been identified as appropriate spawning habitat for surf smelt and Pacific sand lance, two fish species that are important food sources for wild salmon.
“As a resident of Keats Island, I am thrilled by the transfer of the Sandy Beach property to the Islands Trust Conservancy. This land is treasured by islanders for its beauty and important ecological values. We are now assured that the southwest section of Keats will never face development,” said Dan Rogers, Gambier Island trustee and Keats Island resident.
The Sandy Beach Nature Reserve is a location of cultural heritage for Skw̱ xw̱ ú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaʔɬ ̓ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and protection from land-altering activity under the management of the Islands Trust Conservancy is the first step to the preservation and protection of this location.
“The Skw̱ x̱wú7mesh (Squamish) people have a long interconnected history with Lhek’̱tines (also known as Keats ́ Island). The island is laden with place names and areas of cultural significance that remind us, as Skw̱ x̱wú7mesh, who we are and how the island provided for our people since the beginning of creation. We relied on the aquatic and terrestrial resources of the island to maintain our culture and way of life,” said Syeta’xtn (Chris Lewis) a Squamish Nation spokesperson and councillor, in a release.
Lhek’̱tines/ ́ Keats Island is one of the larger islands in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound, located offshore from the community of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, and is directly west of Bowen Island.
Sandy Beach was a part of “Keats Camp”, a Baptist summer youth camp operated by the Convention of Baptist Churches of British Columbia, which was founded in 1926. The land was transferred from the Convention of Baptist Churches of B.C. to Islands Trust Conservancy on December 18, 2020, as part of a rezoning and subdivision application and comes with a $12,000 contribution which has been allocated to a land management fund.
“Protecting and preserving fragile ecosystems like the Sandy Beach Nature Reserve on Lhek’̱tines/Keats Island is an important ́ legacy and has special significance for the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples, particularly the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, who have had deep cultural connections to this land since time immemorial. Our government is proud of the work that the Islands Trust Conservancy has accomplished over the past 30 years and we will continue to support them in their efforts to protect island habitats in B.C.’s Salish Sea,” Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs, B.C.
The Islands Trust Conservancy manages 1,307 hectares (3,229.7 acres) of natural landscapes across the region through private landowner conservation covenants and as nature reserves.