Valens Brook Nature Reserve is a story of neighbours inspiring neighbours. The 6.3 hectare (15.6 acre) protected area is the result of two families donating land to conservation, seven years apart.
Marilyn Wan and Dr. Kal Holsti donated the original Valens Brook Nature Reserve in 2012 and Luise Hermanutz and David Innes donated the Valens Brook Nature Reserve addition in 2018. The reserve protects a portion of its namesake waterway and diverse riparian forest. Salmon spawn here, as the creek runs through a lush, maturing forest of cedars, firs, ferns and sedges. The riparian ecosystem supports a great diversity of species, including red-legged frog, salamanders, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and beavers.
Marilyn and Kal's and Luise and David’s donations of land represent a larger effort to permanently protect the creek from its headwaters to the sea, creating a green belt for habitat to thrive and others to enjoy.
The forest structure here tells us that the land now protected as Valens Brook Nature Reserve was once partially logged. There are other sections that were never logged but were likely burned in the past 100 years. Since then, the habitat on the reserve has rarely been disturbed. The primarily older second growth forest has a lush understory of sword fern and salal.
The area surrounding the Valens Brook Nature Reserve remained rural and wild up to as early as the late 1960’s. Since then, properties have been subdivided and houses and septic fields built. Kal and Marilyn were worried about the effect crowding, habitat destruction and increased septic leaks were having on Valens Brook and the salmon that spawn here. In 2012, the couple subdivided their property under Section 99 of the Land Title Act, donating the natural portion of their property as a nature reserve while retaining a small portion of their property for their own personal use.
Neighbouring biologists Luise and David recognized their land’s similar natural values and were equally concerned about the future of the brook and land. After observing the successful protection of the original Valens Brook Nature Reserve, Luise and David also subdivided their property under Section 99 of the Land Title Act, donating the natural portion of their property as a nature reserve while also retaining a small portion of their property for their own personal use.
Valens Brook Nature Reserve's primary purpose is to provide a green buffer for its namesake waterway - a salmon-bearing creek. The Islands Trust Conservancy does not maintain trails on this nature reserve in order to best protect the sensitive nature of the riparian habitat and the wildlife it supports. Therefore, there is no public access to this Nature Reserve.
The Islands Trust Conservancy is working to protect Denman Island’s second-largest salmon spawning stream, Valens Brook, for which this nature reserve is named. The Valens Brook Nature Reserve protects 170 metres of Valens Brook, as well as two small wetlands and mature Douglas-fir forests with huge veteran old-growth trees over two metres in diameter. To preserve this area the Nature Reserve is closed to the public as one of the major assets of the Nature Reserve is the fact that the forest and creek habitat, while narrow, is a safe distance from disturbance by humans or domestic animals, and thus offers quality wildlife habitat. Initial management priorities include the development of an overall invasive species management strategy and developing monitoring and conservation strategies for the salmon-bearing creek.
The Denman Conservancy Association acts as the on-island management group on behalf of the Islands Trust Conservancy. The management plan for Valens Brook Nature Reserve can be viewed here.