Princess Louisa Inlet, in British Columbia, Canada, is often called the Yosemite of the North for its vertiginous granite walls and waterfalls tumbling not to a valley floor as in Yosemite, but to a deep blue fjord. Grizzly bears, eagles, mountain goats, deer, and a stunning variety of fish call the inlet home. When the owner of several thousand acres of land on the inlet’s southern coast announced the land would be put up for sale earlier this year, logging and development companies sprung into action with bids and plans for the resources.
But, so did concerned citizens as well as the BC Parks Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with the BC Parks to purchase land to be donated to the public. Not today, they said, more or less. Not here. Last week, the foundation announced it had raised enough money from public donations to purchase the land, preserving it from a potential fate as a logging site.
Back in May, the foundation approached the owner of the land to discuss a price for the purchase. They agreed on a figure and set a deadline of August 28 to raise the necessary funds.
Next, the foundation spread the word throughout Canada and the donations started pouring in. More than a thousand donors from around the world chipped in. Some of the gifts were only one dollar. One donor gave hundreds of thousands of dollars after seeing a TV spot that explained the fund was $100,000 short.
A fifth grade classroom in Canada managed to raise $1,109.38 and sent the check to the foundation with the following note: “We hope that this gift will help you purchase the land and keep it wild forever. One day, we might all have the chance to visit this beautiful piece of wilderness, knowing that we played a role in saving it for future generations.”
“It was so many people who gave us $10 or $15 and said, ‘This is all I can do, but this is a wonderful thing that you’re doing,'” said BC Parks Foundation CEO Andy Day.
It took until the last possible minute, with at-the-wire donations finally getting the foundation to the purchase price. The foundation was also able to negotiate the right to veto development on land immediately to the north of the parcels purchased by the public.
The land will be set aside for the public as a Class A designation, which will keep logging, mining, and hydroelectic power-generating dams from the area. The foundation will meet with members of the Sechelt First Nation to discuss next steps for preserving the land.
“These protected areas are our crown jewels,” said the man who donated $100,000 for the cause. “I think it is madness to consider letting them go for short-term economic gain when they provide much more in perpetuity.”
Photo: Klaus Johansson