RICHMOND, BC, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - An internationally-important section of the Fraser River Estuary is now preserved for wildlife habitat and parkland. This is thanks to a new land purchase by the City of Richmond and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). Together, they secured the largest remaining privately-owned land along the Sturgeon Banks totalling 51 hectares (127 acres) of valuable tidal wetlands critical to waterfowl, fish and other wildlife.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie, accompanied by Les Bogdan, director of regional operations with DUC, marked the purchase this afternoon (March 22) on the shores of the property. The land will become Richmond's newest park. Working together, the City of Richmond and DUC will preserve, conserve, maintain and enhance the natural state of the lands, habitat and its amenities.
"The acquisition of this land is extremely significant from a local, regional and international perspective," said Mayor Brodie. "By preserving this foreshore, we are protecting an important part of the Pacific Flyway for migratory birds and complementing the Sturgeon Banks Provincial Wildlife Management Area. Also, our partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada enables us to create valuable park space, preserve natural habitat, recognize heritage and create environmental benefits now and for many generations to come."
"Ducks Unlimited Canada is very fortunate to work with our directors and volunteers, other government and non-government organizations, as well as our industry partners to successfully bring funding to a project of this significance in the Pacific Flyway," said Bogdan. "Securing and managing this land for fish and wildlife is the priority, but there are other benefits too. These lands provide an opportunity for the public to view wildlife in their natural environment, now and into the future."
The total cost to acquire the two sections of land was $2.2 million in cash along with $850,000 in the form of a Federal Ecological Gift tax receipt to the sellers, the Grauer family. The purchase was split two-thirds City of Richmond and one-third DUC.
The City of Richmond will manage the land as a public park to provide education and passive recreation opportunities that will complement the conservation purposes for which the land was purchased.
Sturgeon Banks lies along the western foreshore of Richmond's Lulu Island, where the Fraser River meets the Pacific Ocean. The area is used by over one million migrating birds each year, and on a daily basis, hundreds of thousands of wintering waterfowl shorebirds. At least 47 species of shorebirds, as well as great blue herons, trumpeter and tundra swans, lesser snow geese and dabbling ducks use this critical habitat. All five species of Pacific salmon use the area for passage, food, shelter and acclimatizing to salt water. At least 27 species of non-salmonid fish species also occur here, including starry flounder, three-spined stickleback, herring and shiner perch.
The park offers multiple benefits. It provides opportunities for the community to experience the natural environment of Sturgeon Banks, along with unique and accessible educational experiences. Another important aspect is that the land will continue to support Richmond's critical flood protection strategy by dissipating wave energy produced during winter storms before it reaches the West Dyke.
The Grauer family owned this property for several generations. It was the largest private holding remaining outside the dike along Lulu Island. Privately-owned intertidal lands are unique in BC as 99.9 per cent is Crown land. DUC and its government and non-government partners have been working to secure these lands for over 30 years.
"The success of this project was largely due to the cooperation between the Grauer family, the City of Richmond and Ducks Unlimited Canada. Without the give and take and the trust among the parties, we would not be able to announce this project today," added Bogdan.
The land purchase was made possible through the Grauer family's participation in the Federal Ecological Gifts Program.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the City to preserve significant ecological lands," said Mayor Brodie. "The purchase also preserves a landscape that is part of our heritage - it adds to the diversity of landscapes that is Richmond, and creates a new place of pride."
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. Learn more at ducks.ca.
SOURCE City of Richmond