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Popular West Shore forest lands to remain under protective care

Douglas fir forests are key elements of two West Shore properties included in a transfer of lands from financially struggling The Land Conservancy to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Kindwood, a 72-acre parcel in Highlands that sits adjacent to Thetis Lake and Mount Work regional parks; and Lohbrunner Woods, a forested area excluded from TLC’s Lohbrunner Farm property on Lippincott Road in Langford, were among 26 properties around B.C. transferred last week from one conservancy group to the other.

“TLC has done great work in the past and it’s unfortunate where they have ended up,” said Lesley Neilson, communications manager with Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“The important part is to keep these lands in conservation.”

The properties contained in the transfer agreement were identified as having the highest ecological value among lands in TLC’s portfolio, Neilson said. Her group has been monitoring the potential for such lands to fall out of conservation status since TLC’s financial troubles were brought to light several years ago.

The Kindwood lands were donated to TLC in two sections, in 1998 and 2002. The Land Conservancy’s website describes it as “ecologically significant, as it is a relatively undisturbed mature second-growth forest in an area that is rapidly losing its natural areas due to urban expansion.”

The late Norma Lohbrunner donated her family’s farm property to TLC in 2007, with the promise that it would be protected in perpetuity and never be sold or mortgaged.

The farm section, which remains in the care of TLC, is a source of fresh local produce, operating under the name Lohbrunner Bird Sanctuary and Farm.

The Land Conservancy’s financial troubles over the years have been blamed largely on the non-profit organization taking on more properties than it could realistically handle, mortgaging existing holdings to purchase new ones.

Neilson said the Nature Conservancy of Canada operates differently, using endowments to create funds with which to purchase new lands to preserve.

“We don’t take something on if we don’t have (the funds to pay for it),” she said.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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