The Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve is a steep forested bluff, rising 240 meters above Howe Sound on the east side of Gambier Island. The reserve protects five hectares of rocky outcrops and veteran trees saved from much of Gambier's logging past because of the steep nature of the landscape. Red alder, bigleaf maple and western hemlock stand tall along the bluff, while western fescue, bracken fern and twinflower fill spots in the understory below.
Red-breasted Sapsucker and Pileated Woodpecker feed in the snags along the bluff. The rocky ridge provides a natural corridor for wildlife and the reserve links undeveloped crown land to the west with a municipal park to the east.
Brigade Bay was once a safe haven and camp site for First Nations travelling in Howe Sound. The area surrounding the bay, likely including the bluffs, was known among the Squamish Nation for deer hunting and plant gathering. In the early 1900s, the forests around the bluffs were likely logged as evidenced by the cedar stumps in the outskirts of the reserve. In 2000, the majority of the site was selectively harvested as part of a subdivision development.
Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve, along with Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve, was donated by Coastland Wood Industries to meet a subdivision development requirement for the nearby Brigade Bay development. The donation of the bluffs and wetland was the result of extensive collaboration between the private, public and non-profit sectors, as well as the involvement of many community members. The process that led to the donation is touted by the community as a model for community involvement and dialogue in a complex subdivision process.
Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve is open to the Brigade Bay subdivision for public use, but due to the steep terrain, has limited recreational opportunities. Please stay away from the cliff edges - mosses and other vegetation make the terrain slippery. To preserve the unique plants that grow along the bluffs and possible bird nesting sites, please do not use the bluffs for rock climbing. Please stay on established trails.
The Gambier Island Conservancy and Sunshine Coast Conservation Association hold a conservation covenant on the Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve and the Conservancy manages the property on behalf of the Islands Trust Conservancy. The reserve is monitored regularly by volunteers to keep track of the changing management needs of this sensitive area.
Because of the past forestry activity in and around the reserve, the Islands Trust Conservancy's management priority for the site is allowing natural succession of the forest to continue with little human intervention. Where appropriate, the Islands Trust Conservancy, with the help of the Conservancy, may help this process along by removing invasive plant species and planting tree seedlings. The management plan for Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve can be viewed here.