The Pender Islands Conservancy Association is a group of people who value and appreciate the natural beauty of the Pender Islands and the surrounding Salish Sea, and understand the importance of preserving the varied habitats found here. Our mandate is to endeavour to safeguard the evolution of our natural environment in balance with increasing human presence. The Pender Islands Conservancy Association is a registered land trust and a member of the Land Trust Alliance of BC.
Incorporated in 1993, Pender Islands Conservancy Association is the oldest environmental group on Pender. The Conservancy was created through the concerted efforts of community members who became extremely concerned when a valuable publicly owned piece of land on Pender was being put up for private sale. They saw an urgent need for an organization that would champion land protection on the islands and rallied community support in creating the Pender Islands Conservancy Association.
Pender Islands Conservancy volunteers and staff engage in a wide variety of projects and activities that aim to:
Promote awareness and understanding of the natural environment of the Pender Islands and the impact of expanding human activities on this environment through supporting community education initiatives.
Foster engagement of the community in participating in conservation, restoration and research activities on the Pender Islands, our shores and the surrounding Salish Sea.
The Preservation of the Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary
In 1994 members of the Pender Islands Conservancy Association became aware that the Atkins family—owners of an ecologically valuable piece of land adjoining the popular Medicine Beach, and the tidal marsh behind it—were putting the property up for sale.
The Conservancy was instrumental in raising $533,997, which included a $127,000 donation from the Atkins family, enabling the property to be purchased. In 1995 the Conservancy donated the Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary to the Islands Trust t Conservancy.
The Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful and special place. It provides crucial habitat for many species, some of which are endangered. It is a historical site of summer villages of the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations people. It features one of the largest undeveloped beaches of North Pender and includes a rare tidal marsh, bluffs with spectacular views, and forest pathways of Douglas fir, Arbutus and Western Redcedar trees.
The 20 acre Sanctuary is home to many birds and mammals and the beach is an important spawning area for Surf
The Creation of Brooks Point Regional Park
The Pender Islands Conservancy played a key role in the acquisition of Brooks Point. The Conservancy partnered with the Friends of Brooks Point, the Islands Trust Conservancy, The Habitat Acquisition Trust, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the CRD in raising funds necessary to purchase and protect an ecologically diverse and vulnerable area of land adjoining Gowland Point on South Pender Island. The land was purchased in stages over several years, and the result is the beautiful Brooks Point Regional Park.
Brooks Point Regional Park is a “gem of the Gulf Islands”, which includes one of the last undeveloped headlands in the Southern Gulf Islands. Visitors enjoy spectacular
views of Boundary Pass and Mount Baker, rich marine and intertidal life, magnificent giant Douglas firs, and a boardwalk path through quiet stands of forest. In the spring, meadows of chocolate lilies and camas bloom. It is home to an increasingly rare mature Garry Oak stand, which provides habitat for the endangered Sharp-tailed snake. Bird lovers can try to spot some of the over 134 different bird species identified, while the rocky shores provide a vantage point for viewing resident Orca pods that occasionally travel along the shoreline.
The Establishment of Twenty Conservation Covenants
The Pender Island Conservancy Association jointly holds 20 Covenants on Pender Island. Putting a conservation covenant on your property creates a permanent sanctuary for the plants and animals you share your land with. When you place a covenant on your land, you agree to use and care for it in ways that protect its valuable natural features. The covenant ensures that the natural features that you value today will continue to be protected into the future, even after you sell or bequeath your land. A covenant binds future owners to the same promises you have made, meaning the landscape you've loved and cared for remains protected in perpetuity.
The Pender Islands Conservancy Association is a registered land trust and a member of the Land Trust Alliance of BC. Land trusts are legally empowered to accept donations of land, or to hold conservation covenants, for permanent ecological protection. Through this process, and in partnership with the Islands Trust Conservancy, the Pender Islands Conservancy Association is now co-covenant holder on 17 North Pender properties. In addition, there is a conservation covenant held jointly by the Conservancy and a private landowner, and one held between the Conservancy and the Capital Regional District, represented locally by the Pender Island Parks and Recreation Commission.
The Morrison Waxler Biodiversity Protection Legacy Fund helps property owners cover the cost of placing conservation covenants on their special places. We are grateful for the generous contribution from the Morrison family who made this fund available to property owners on North and South Pender. The Morrison Waxler Biodiversity Protection Legacy Fund is administered by the Islands Trust Conservancy.
Several Pender covenants are under the Islands Trust Natural Areas Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), which provides a 65% reduction in property taxes on the covenanted land. Some are also registered under the Federal Ecological Gifts Program, whereby the value of the covenant offers a federal income tax advantage.
Each year a specialist, usually a professional biologist hired by the Islands Trust Conservancy, comes to Pender Island to inspect the covenants. A Pender Island Conservancy Association board member or staff person accompanies the inspector.
Find out how to establish your own covenant here.
Our Directors & Staff
Dr. Erin O’Brien
Ecology and Conservation Director
As an avian ecologist, Erin studies songbirds to monitor habitat quality and detect environmental changes on local scales. Since moving to Pender in 2012, she has established nest box trails for studying aerial insectivores, helped to initiate a barn swallow nest site community mapping project, and is beginning a long-term avian bioindicator monitoring program focused on chestnut-backed chickadees and violet-green swallows. Erin accepted a staff position with the Conservancy in 2019 that has allowed her to focus on fundraising, community engagement, and revitalizing conservation and land preservation activities on Pender.
Elizabeth Miles (MSc) Board President
Elizabeth was a Registered Psychologist with a specialty in Women's Health in her previous life. Since moving to Pender Island in 2012 she has enjoyed birding, gardening, and playing music with friends. She believes that habitat preservation and restoration are crucial to stopping the alarming decline of the world's wildlife, and thus joined the Conservancy in order to help with its hands-on restoration projects. Some of her contributions include organizing the annual Beach Clean-up, helping with the Hope Bay Stream Restoration project, coordinating the Pender portions of the inter-island Kelp Mapping and Eelgrass Planting projects, and working on strengthening partnerships with other environmental groups.
Dan Baxter, Treasurer/Vice President
Dan is a Registered Professional Biologist specializing in wildlife biology and co-owner of an environmental consulting company on Pender Island. After 15 years in environmental consulting working on industrial projects where permitting and approvals tended to be prioritized over environmental concerns, Dan joined the Conservancy so that he could focus on meaningful wildlife studies and conservation projects in the Southern Gulf Islands.
Bob has actively advocated for habitat protection since 1959 and in the 60's was a member of Pollution Probe and the Norfolk Naturalists in southern Ontario. Bob is an avid birder who reports daily to the on-line Cornell University E-bird site to record declining avian numbers. Since joining the Conservancy, he has been active in kelp mapping, beach cleanup, eelgrass planting and the Hope Bay Salmon Stream restoration projects.
Bob Vergette has been interested in nature since he was a member of the Edmonton Bird Club in his youth. He lived in several cities in BC and Alberta before coming to Pender Island 30 years ago. Bob sat on the Conservancy board for several years in the past, taking on the task of building and installing Purple Martin nest boxes. More recently Bob was the Chair of the Pender Island Field Naturalists—an organization that focused on educating the public about the natural world. The merger of the Field Naturalists with the Conservancy was an opportunity to expand public education, so he continued on as a Conservancy board member in 2020, and has proven to be a valuable asset to the education committee. Bob believes that providing educational opportunities is an excellent way to ensure people will respect and protect the natural world.
Allan grew up in Trail BC and has worked at a number of varied occupations, such as sales manager for an insurance firm and as manager for an industrial minerals plant. His love of fishing and the outdoors, combined with the knowledge he gained of industrial practices, lead him to become involved in environmental protection issues. After moving to Pender, Allan continued his eclectic career: he opened an art gallery at Port Washington, was part owner of Talisman books for four years, and worked for ten years at the Pender Island Golf course. He also became involved in land and habitat protection on Pender, joining in the attempt to purchase a parcel of land in order to protect an eagle’s nest. He has an interest in stewardship and invasive species removal.
Ron worked for 30 years with the Ministry of BC Agriculture, mostly in the areas of soil conservation and environmental protection. In recent years he served four years on the Islands Trust Conservancy Board and for six years on the Farm Industry Review Board. He joined the Pender Islands Conservancy Board because of his knowledge of conservation programs and experience on other organizational boards. Now fully retired, he hopes to contribute to the success of a number of Pender Conservancy initiatives.
Bio under construction.
Graham Boffey, Past President
In his early career Graham was a member of a research team in the U.K. investigating food additive and pesticide metabolism. On arrival in Canada he worked as a hospital toxicologist, and performed research in partnership with Agriculture Canada on the paralysis causing toxin released during feeding by the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.
As a Pender Conservancy board member, he had a special interest in the management of Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary and protection of the ecology of the Islands and their marine surroundings. Graham retired from the board after 10 years service in 2021.
Ursula was in love with plants ever since she was very young. She moved to Canada from Germany in 1977, and worked as a pharmacist in Alberta, BC and the N.W.T. She moved to Pender Island in 1986 to open the pharmacy here. Ursula’s love of nature soon led her to become involved in environmental activities on Pender. She helped with the establishment of the Medicine Beach Nature Sanctuary and Brooks Point Regional Park.
Ursula was a member of the Pender Islands Conservancy Board for 20 years, serving as Board Treasurer for most of that time. Sadly, Ursula passed away in March 2020. Her tireless commitment to Pender Island will be greatly missed.
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Our Partners in Conservation
The work we do would not be possible without help from our many partnerships. Through partnerships with individuals, other agencies and organizations, businesses, and government, we have been able to help protect land, restore habitat, monitor kelp forests, plant eelgrass meadows, clean our shores, provide learning opportunities for children, advocate for change, remove invasive species, host or co-host educational seminars, support citizen science, provide nests for purple martins, and monitor the endangered sharp-tailed snake.