In 2000, heavy logging in the Brigade Bay area led to significant damage of tributaries making up the headwaters of the Long Bay watershed. Slash blocked channels upstream and downstream of the Long Bay wetland, and silt covered fish spawning habitat downstream. The Gambier community was devastated by the destruction.
Together with the local community, the Gambier Island Streamkeepers approached the landowner in 2002, working out a remediation plan to restore the watershed back to its original beauty and habitat. Contractors volunteered their time to clear away the slash and replace culverts, and residents planted thousands of cuttings and saplings to stabilize the stream banks and wetland edges. After only three years, the wetland and tributaries were rehabilitated. To protect the watershed from ever being damaged again, the developer donated a 38 hectare portion of the property to the Islands Trust Conservancy, to be preserved as the Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve.
Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve includes not just the wetland, but upland forest and a number of tributaries flowing down from the forests to the wetland. Frogs and salamanders breed in the wetland, and a diversity of birds forage and nest in the upland forests. Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve joins with the Mount Artaban Nature Reserve and neighbouring local, regional and provincial parks to create a continuous protected area of 525 hectares.
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 wetland and upland forests, was known among the Squamish Nation for deer hunting and plant gathering. In the early 1900s, the forests were likely logged.
In 2000, heavy logging in the Brigade Bay area led to significant damage of tributaries in what would one day be the Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve. Together with the local community, the Gambier Island Streamkeepers approached the landowner in 2002, working out a remediation plan to restore the watershed back to its original beauty. Contractors volunteered their time to clear away the slash and replace culverts, and residents planted thousands of cuttings and saplings to stabilize the stream banks and wetland edges.
Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve, along with Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve was donated by Coastland Wood Industries to meet a subdivision development requirement for the nearby Brigade Bay development. The donation of the wetland and bluffs 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.
Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve is the front door to an extensive foot-trail network stretching from the Brigade Bay area, over Mount Artaban, and into Halkett Bay Provincial Park. The reserve is open to visitors enjoying light recreational activities, such as walking and nature appreciation. To make sure the headwaters this reserve protects are not damaged, please stay on established trails and refrain from littering. No camping, fires, hunting or motorized vehicles are allowed.
The Gambier Island Conservancy and Sunshine Coast Conservation Association hold a conservation covenant on the Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve and the Conservancy manages the property on behalf of the Islands Trust Fund. 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 Fund's management priority for the site is allowing natural succession of the forest to continue with little human intervention. Where appropriate, the Islands Trust Fund, with the help of the Conservancy, may help this process along by removing invasive plant species and planting tree seedlings. The management plan for Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve can be viewed here.