About the Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest Ecological Research Area consists of 72.7 acres of ecologically significant land located on Salt Spring Island, in the B.C. Southern Gulf Islands. It was donated to Trinity Western University in 2000 and soon after it was discovered that, in addition to the breathtaking views, the property contained some of the few remaining Garry oak (Quercus garryana) meadows in British Columbia. These meadows and their associated ecosystems contain more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal B.C., as well as a multitude of other creatures, including many species found nowhere else in Canada. For more detailed information on the Garry oak ecosystem, check out the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team website.
The ideal situation of the Crow's Nest also lends itself to areas of study beyond the Garry oak community. Sea life abounds on the coast, which is only a 15 minute walk away. The island is also rich in history as the many old buildings can testify. In fact, the Ruckle Farm on the south end of the island is the oldest family run farm in all of B.C.! Possibilities of recreation are also numerous on Salt Spring Island. Climbing at Mt.Maxwell 's cliffs, camping at Ruckle Provincial Park and ocean kayaking are only a few of the available recreational activities. TWU has taken advantage of this setting and offers a month-long travel study based on Salt Spring Island , where students take courses in plant and marine ecology. Contact Prof. Karen Steensma or Dr. David Clements for more information on this travel study.
TWU professors and students have been involved in different research projects on the property. The goal is to continue to contribute to the understanding of this unique ecosystem, enabling us to manage the property in such a way as to keep it ecologically healthy for future generations to enjoy. Students enrolled in programs such as Environmental Studies, Biology, Geography, and Chemistry may visit the Crow's Nest on field trips and have the opportunity to gain valuable field experience through several student research positions each summer.
Over the years, a number of facilities have been added to the property, including three small cabins which sleep 4 people each, a composting toilet, and a storage shed for equipment. TWU has a desire to build in a sustainable way, and thus far, all development has been low-impact. Currently, there is a solar panel to run the composting toilet and this also provides the camp with basic electricity. In the future, it is hoped to also have some way of collecting rainwater for drinking as there is no running water on the site.
For a glimpse into the beginnings of the Crow's Nest Ecological Research Area, check out these historical articles: