Two P.E.I. islands that were earmarked for protection in the early 1970s have been acquired by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the organization announced Wednesday.
The NCC has obtained Governor's Island, located in Hillsborough Bay, and Reynold’s Island off Murray Harbour.
The islands were acquired with help from private and business donors, the provincial government and a $225-million federal Natural Areas Conservation Program, which helps non-profit organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands.
"It feels great," said Diane Griffin of the NCC. "We're glad we got all the public support we got for the purchase of the islands."
The islands were recommended for protection by the Maritime Panel of the International Biological Program in 1972, said Linda Stephenson, NCC Atlantic regional vice-president.
"I wish to thank each and every one of our partners who contributed to this major conservation success," said Stephenson.
"All of P.E.I.’s offshore islands are important for waterfowl and other species and are necessary for the movement of certain colonies of birds and for shallow water feeding sites."
The 84-acre Governor’s Island contains woods and wetland areas and has some of the oldest geological formations in P.E.I. Its waters are extensively used by one of the province’s largest great blue heron colonies, and numerous migrating ducks, including Canada geese.
Reynold's Island has salt marshes, sandy beach and wooded areas that are popular with colonial nesting birds such as terns, gulls, herons and several species of waterfowl. Harbour seals frequent the sand spit in the northeast of the 31-acre Island.
Fred and Shirley Hyndman contributed toward securing Governor’s Island, while the provincial government help fund Reynold’s Island. Other contributors include Tim Banks and Carrie McNabb, and Dr. Regis and Joan Duffy, Amalgamated Dairies Ltd., Maritime Electric and P.E.I. Mutual Insurance.
"We hope that more people will be able to enjoy and appreciate the natural environment that is there which is becoming ever more precious as years go by," said Fred Hyndman, who picnics and hikes on Reynold's Island and calls it an ecological treasure."
The purchase means P.E.I. is one step closer to its land conservation goal. Right now, less than three per cent of the province is protected land. The goal is 7 per cent. In other provinces, the goal is 12 per cent or more.
"We have no wilderness area and have very little natural area left," says Jackie Waddell of the Island Nature Trust.
The way to increase protected areas here lies with conservation groups and private landowners.
"It's going to be stewardship through organizations like Island Nature Trust and the Nature Conservancy to approach these private landowners to donate or sell for conservation."
The NCC has conserved more than 4,500 acres on P.E.I. and 2.2 million acres across Canada since 1962.