Late Betty Swift (middle) with daughter Hally and son-in-law Eric on Link Island (photo by Islands Trust Conservancy)

This week an island formerly owned by a Seattle woman was donated to the Island Trust Conservancy, marking the largest land donation the conservancy has ever received. 

Betty Swift, who passed away in 2021, left instructions that Link Island will be transferred to the Islands Trust Conservancy in hopes that the location can be used for climate-change research in the Salish Sea.

“This gift is about the future, it is a gift for us all,” said Barbara Swift, Betty Swift’s daughter, in a press release. 

Located Southeast of Nanaimo, the landmass spans 52.5 acres and is valued at $3.73 million. 

Nestled between Mudge Island and DeCourcy Island, Link Island is home to a wealth of biodiversity. 

With over three kilometres of undeveloped shoreline, coastal cliffs, wetlands, tidal flats and mixed forest ecosystems including threatened coastal Douglas-fir, arbutus, and prairie oak meadows.

While the island will remain closed to the public, providing sanctuary to the rare and threatened ecosystems, Swift’s gift to the conservancy reserves the right to use Link Island for her children and grandchildren for the duration of their lives. 

“We feel so honoured that Betty and her family have entrusted us with this island,” says Linda Adams, Islands Trust Conservancy Chair. “It is our intent to manage Link Island in a way that recognizes and protects both its cultural and ecological values.”

Link Island is located within the territories of several First Nations including the Cowichan Tribes, Xeláltxw (Halalt) First Nation, Lyackson First Nation, Spune’luxutth’ (Penelakut Tribe), SEMYOME (Semiahmoo) First Nation, Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo) First Nation, Stz’uminus (Chemainus) First Nation, and Ts’uubaa-asatx (Lake Cowichan) First Nation.

In recent years, the Island Trust Conservancy has been working alongside the First Nations to establish a management plan that respects the needs and values of unceded territory and environmental research.

Before the land title to Link Island was transferred to the Islands Trust Conservancy, Gabriola Land & Trails Trust President, Brockley, met the Swift family, to express his appreciation for their generosity.

“Many of us aspire to show generosity when opportunities arise, but the Swift family has actually done it, and on such a grand scale,” said Brockley in a press release.

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