After several years of behind the scenes work of the Denman Conservancy Association, Morrison Marsh Nature Reserve came to the Islands Trust Fund in 2005 as a generous donation from an anonymous donor. The 50 hectare (125 acre) reserve protects forest, rock bluffs, the headwaters of Boyle Creek and the southern end of Denman Island's largest marsh - Morrison Marsh. The marsh is home to more than 80 bird species; a key waterfowl over-wintering and breeding area. Several species of special concern live on the property, including Great Blue Herons, Hutton's Vireo, Band-tailed Pigeons, and red-legged frogs. Beaver, mink, otter and Pacific chorus frogs live there as well.
The nature reserve provides an important link between the marsh and Boyle Point Provincial Park, giving wildlife a safe corridor between this freshwater resource and the ocean. Protecting the marsh also benefits the community as a groundwater recharge area.
With an ancient Pentlach village site nearby, Morrison Marsh was likely used by indigenous peoples for hunting of waterfowl and deer as well as the gathering and harvesting of plant materials. The marsh was used at one time during European settlement to farm reed canarygrass. The forests around Morrison Marsh were logged several times throughout the 1900s.
In 1985, Ducks Unlimited Canada, in cooperation with the Provincial government and shoreline residents, installed a crest weir and outlet channel to control water levels in Morrison Marsh. Since that time however, a beaver dam downstream of the weir has also played a part in determining the depth of the marsh.
In 2000, a private owner purchased the property with the intention of protecting the marsh. After several years of behind the scenes work by the Denman Conservancy Association, the landowner chose to subdivide the property under Section 99 of the Land Title Act, creating a large parcel to be donated to the Islands Trust Conservancy for conservation purposes, while retaining a small portion of the property for potential future residential use.
Morrison Marsh Nature Reserve contains several old logging roads that are used by the local community for walking, bird watching and nature appreciation, and that connect with trails inside Boyle Point Provincial Park. When visiting, please stay on established trails and pathways to keep from damaging pockets of wetlands throughout the reserve. Please respect private property neighbouring the nature reserve.
Mountain bikes and all-terrain vehicles damage sensitive rocky outcrop and marsh areas, and are not allowed in this nature reserve. When canoeing or kayaking in the marsh please avoid venturing into the nature reserve or southern portion of the marsh; give waterfowl a sanctuary where they can rest, breed and raise young undisturbed. Please keep pets under control to make sure the wildlife that find sanctuary here are not harassed.
The Denman Conservancy Association holds a conservation covenant on the Morrison Marsh Nature Reserve, and acts as the on-island management group on behalf of the Islands Trust Conservancy.
The Islands Trust Conservancy is working to protect habitat known to support red- and blue-listed species, rocky outcrops, the pocket wetlands that form the headwaters of Morrison Marsh, and the marsh's shoreline by carefully diverting trails and monitoring use of the reserve. In partnership with the Conservancy, we plan to remove invasive species that might damage habitat on the reserve such as English holly and laurel leaved daphne.
The management plan for Morrison Marsh Nature Reserve can be viewed here.