The Cunningham Nature Reserve and Conservation Covenant combined protect 22 hectares of open, park-like woodland, with a mix of old-growth Douglas-fir veterans, arbutus, Garry oak, and broad-leaf maple. The protected areas run a steep course across the lower slopes of Mount Tuam, overlooking Satellite Channel. The Cunningham protected areas join existing ecological and nature reserves, provincial parks, conservation covenants, and planned conservation projects to create a proposed protected area network that will one day stretch from the shores of Satellite Channel, over Mount Tuam, into Burgoyne Bay and towards Mt. Maxwell and Sansum Narrows.
The land that would one day become the Cyril Cunningham Nature Reserve was selectively logged sometime in the 1940s, but many old-growth Douglas-fir veterans remain. Before the property was purchased by the Cunningham family, local pioneer Bo Akerman owned the property and used it as a base to access his thousand head of sheep on the range lands above.
Cyril Cunningham Nature Reserve and the corresponding nearby covenant were originally part of a larger property, subdivided into the Cape Keppel development in 1994. The Cunningham family donated a section of the larger property as a reserve, and placed a conservation covenant on a portion of the strata lots to protect the land from any future development.
The Cunningham Nature Reserve is located in a fairly remote part of Salt Spring Island and largely inaccessible to the public. There are no trails on the property. Camping is prohibited on the nature reserve and we ask visitors to refrain from lighting campfires because of the extreme dry conditions on the south-facing slope of Mt. Tuam.
The Cunningham covenant is private land and not open to the public.
The Salt Spring Island Conservancy and Habitat Acquisition Trust jointly hold a covenant on the Cyril Cunningham Nature Reserve and the covenant on the nearby property is held by the Islands Trust Conservancy. The Salt Spring Island Conservancy acts as the on-island management group on behalf of the Islands Trust Conservancy.
The Cyril Cunningham Nature Reserve and Covenant are monitored annually by the Islands Trust Conservancy. With the wild nature of the protected areas, the Islands Trust Conservancy's management priority for the site is primarily to leave the land be, letting natural ecological processes to continue uninhibited by human disturbances. The management plan for the Cunningham Nature reserve can be viewed here.