British Columbia

Group wants to turn remote swath of stunning coastal wilderness into B.C. park

The B.C. Parks Foundation is trying to raise money to purchase 800 hectares of rugged waterfront wilderness along Princess Louisa Inlet, a remote part of the Sunshine Coast, in order to create a new provincial park.

Charity trying to buy undeveloped land in Princess Louisa Inlet for $3M

An area at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet is set aside as a provincial marine park, but the B.C. Parks Foundation wants to dramatically increase its size. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

It's a spectacular 800-hectare piece of unspoiled wilderness nestled in the remote Princess Louisa Inlet on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, and it's for sale.

The B.C. Parks Foundation, a relatively new independent charity that works with B.C. Parks to improve the provincial park system, is trying to raise a total of $3 million to buy the land before a deadline at the end of August when the seller will consider other offers. They have already raised $2 million.

If the foundation is successful, it hopes to bundle the land with an existing provincial park, private land set aside for conservation and Crown land to create an enormous new 9,000-hectare park surrounding the entire inlet.

"It's a very deep kind of classic fjord land on the coast," said Andrew Day, CEO of the B.C. Parks Foundation, who described massive, steep granite slopes. "And then, because the rim around the top branches into high alpine snow pack, you get this incredible series of waterfalls that come just basically all the way down that rock."

A waterfall tumbles down the granite cliffs above Princess Louisa Inlet Marine Provincial Park. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The inlet isn't easy to get to. It's about 100 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, as the crow flies, and 60 kilometres west of Whistler over rugged, ice covered mountains. But it's a popular destination for boaters and ambitious paddlers, who have to travelled all the way up Jervis Inlet from Egmont or Earls Cove.

"At the head of the inlet is Chatterbox Falls, which is this very wide, dramatic waterfall — roaring thunder, especially in the spring when you get the snow melt," said Day. "It's just incredible."

Chatterbox Falls is within the existing 964-hectare Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park.

Chatterbox Falls marks the end of Princess Louisa Inlet. During the spring melt, the thunderous falls are especially dramatic. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

According to Day, there's been forestry activity in the past around the inlet, but the area for sale is untarnished.

"We're just in a fortunate position to have one of these watersheds that's kind of rare and being un-roaded and really quite pristine," he said. "It's just such a rare gem, right? There are just places that are special and the dramatic nature of this place makes it really stand out."

Andrew Day, CEO of the B.C. Parks Foundation, gazes up the steep granite cliffs enclosing Princess Louisa Inlet. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Day said the foundation is concerned about what could happen to the land if it isn't set aside as a park. The property's online listing mentions the land's "large timber component."

"It would be a real shame to see development happen there, of whatever kind, whether it's foreshore development or forestry or, you know any of that kind of extractive activity or permanent changes to the landscape," said Day.

The three pieces of land for sale total 800 hectares along the south shore of Princess Louisa Inlet with 4.5 km of waterfront. (B.C. Parks Foundation)

If the foundation is successful in drumming up another million dollars, work alongside the provincial government and the Sechelt Nation to establish the new park would begin, including mapping out where facilities, trails and other park amenities would go.

"With a beautiful place like this you want to manage it well, but you also want to make it accessible to people, so they can all experience and enjoy it," said Day.

Princess Louisa Inlet is remote and challenging to get to, but dedicated boaters still make the trip to enjoy its stunning views. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

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About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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