The Moore Hill Nature Reserve was protected in 2017 thanks to the conservation vision of the previous land steward, the incredibly generous support of a local donor family and a grant from the federal Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. The 21 hectares (52 acres) reserve protects maturing Coastal Douglas-fir forest and rocky shoreline. Moore Hill was the 100th property protected by the Islands Trust Conservancy.
Moore Hill forms one of the highest peaks on Thetis Island and contains a rich mix of habitat types. The hill features sandstone cliffs and in places the cliffs have fractured into huge blocks, tumbling together to form caves that provide habitat for several species of bats. Huge first growth Douglas-fir trees rise from the cliffs on the west side of the hill, and in small grassy openings, camas, fritillaries and other wildflowers grow amongst the Garry oaks and arbutus. The eastern slope is a second growth Douglas-fir forest, with an understory mosaic of mosses and ferns.
The land of Moore Hill Nature Reserve is culturally significant to First Nations people of the region, in particular the Penelakut Tribe. Today, the Penelakut Tribe have reserves on nearby Penelakut Island (formerly known as Kuper Island), Tent Island, Galiano Island, and one small reserve on the lower reaches of the Chemainus River.
The Moore Hill Nature Reserve is primarily a steep, dense forested area that is difficult to access. Human use of the reserve, even light walking, could damage the ecosystems this reserve was created to protect. Due to the steep cliff faces and species at risk habitat, the Moore Hill Nature Reserve is not open to the public.
The Moore Hill Nature Reserve is further protected by a conservation covenant held by the Cowichan Community Land Trust. The Islands Trust Conservancy will work with the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy, the Cowichan Community Land Trust, the Penelakut Tribe, archaeologists and species at risk biologists to develop a comprehensive management plan to guide the care of this special place. Moore Hill will be managed to ensure the ecological and archaeological features are monitored and maintained. The property is certified as an Ecological Gift under Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program, which means that the important ecosystems of Moore Hill will be protected forever.