The story of protecting private land with the Hunter Family.
"Those of us who care about the environment simply have to stick our necks out and do it" - Ric Hunter
If you venture past all the coffee shops and restaurants on Quadra Street, through Royal Oak, down the hill and into West Saanich, it is possible to feel completely apart from the city. You'll find yourself on thin, twisting roads lined with Douglas-fir, Garry Oak, Arbutus and a sense of ecological history. It is a familiar story, sadly, that this history is coming under increasing pressure from development. I am out near Prospect Lake to meet Ric and Frances Hunter, and talk to them about the conservation covenant HAT helped them place on their land in 2005.
A conservation covenant is a promise.
Neighbours have asked Ric and Frances why they don't cut down the trees that lead to Prospect Lake. It would add to the property value and give them a prettier view for their morning coffee.
For Ric, there is no debate.
"We have to get over this arrogance of thinking that because we are property owners we think it means we can destroy the property by destroying the trees or blasting the hell out of it," he says as we look out onto Prospect Lake through a tangle of forest.
"I don't think that property ownership in any day and age--but particularly our time--should mean we have the right to destroy it because we 'own' it. That's something that simply has to change and somebody's got to take responsibility for that."
The greatest ecological virtue of the Hunter's property is that it is a significantly large piece of protected land that provides habitat and forage for native flora and fauna in a region that is under intense stress due to loss of habitat.
In addition to the maturing forest and Garry Oak Woodland, there are a number of veteran Douglas firs found on the Hunter property that are 400 years and older, well-utilized wildlife trees, and an ancient nurse log with three mature trees that are over 100 years old growing out of it.
The land is part of a larger local network of remnant natural green spaces in the area such as Mount Work to the west and Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Parks to the east.
The Hunters have spent the better part of the last three and a half decades protecting their piece of land on Prospect Lake. They felt the covenant was the next logical step to make their hard work permanent. Ric views it as more of a responsibility than a legacy, "Those of us who care about the environment simply have to stick our necks out and do it," he says. "It's the same thing we do when we're recycling or we try not to use so many plastic bags; it's just another thing we can do to help save the planet and people just have to take that responsibility when it's before them to take."
For more information on Land Protection please contact Wendy Tyrrell in the HAT office at 250-995-2428.