Located in South Nanaimo under the watchful eye of Mount Benson, the Morrell Nature Sanctuary has welcomed visitors to walk among its trails since its inception in 1985. The sanctuary came into existence after Bill Morrell, a local contractor, donated the area to the British Columbia Land Commission. His donation included a stipulation that the land be used for environmental education.
A mature second growth forest, the 111 hectares of land is home to roughly 17 species of trees along with a host of lush vegetation. According to the ecologists, the sanctuary sits within the Coastal Douglas Fir ecological zone because of the heavy presence of Douglas Fir trees within the region. Due to its close proximity to Mount Benson, the sanctuary is considered an excellent example of a healthy rain-shadow forest boasting a wide variety of plant life. Within the park, 11 kilometers of walking paths wind through the towering fir trees allowing visitors to experience the natural wonders of the forest without harming the sanctuary’s fragile ecosystem.
These conditions make the Morrell Sanctuary an ideal location to educate and inform the public about the natural splendors surrounding the City of Nanaimo. Furthermore, the trail system is one of the few areas in Nanaimo which can accommodate persons with limited mobility such as seniors or people living with disabilities.
The natural splendor along with the ease of access has drawn in large swathes of visitors in recent years. In 2020 alone the park saw 45,000 visitors pass through its gates. Although the park is thrilled to host this many visitors, the volume of traffic causes a substantial amount of wear and tear within the sanctuary.
In response to these conditions, the Sanctuary’s Board of Directors created the Yew Loop Improvement Committee to tackle the deteriorating trail system. The public responded with donations to fund the project and several local businesses including Hazelwood stepped up to help complete the trail restoration.
Recognizing the importance of the Morrell Sanctuary to the region, Hazelwood was happy to contribute labor and machinery to the project in order to allow the public to continue visiting the park.
Local project partners that contributed to the Yew Loop Improvement project:
To learn more about the Morrell Nature Sanctuary visit their website.