One of two plots of land in Cape Scott that are now owned by BC Parks. (NIHO photo)

BC Parks acquires private land in Cape Scott Provincial Park

Land previously held by B.C. land and cattle mogul Rudy Nielsen

Two parcels of land totalling 76 hectares near the renowned North Coast Trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park have been purchased by BC Parks. The deal included 129 hectares of land on Haida Gwaii, for just under $1 million for the four parcels.

NIHO Land and Cattle Company Ltd. founder Rudy Nielsen confirmed he sold the Cape Scott properties to BC Parks. The land has never been developed, and according to Nielsen, is full of old growth timber.

Cape Scott Provincial Park was founded in 1973 — one year after Nielsen bought his first investment property in the province — with over 22,000 hectares of rugged coastal forests and oceanfront. The North Coast Trail, nearly 60 kilometres long, takes hikers “through old and second growth Sitka spruce, hemlock and cedar forests, upland bogs, riparian areas, across sand, gravel and cobble beaches, and past sea stacks, rocky headlands, and tidal pools,” BC Parks writes in the park description.

One of newly acquired parcels of land is south of Guise Bay on the west coast, with a section of ocean front and kilometers of wild forest. The second is a landlocked lot on the inside of Hansen Lagoon, called Fisherman River. Both parcels of land were already surrounded by park lands on all sides.

There were other interested groups, but Neilsen held out for a local buyer.

“I’m a B.C. boy. I make my money here, I spend my money here, I don’t even buy gas in the states. I believe this land should stay in B.C. hands.”

Most of the other interested buyers had wanted to build recreational properties. The old growth trees are valuable, but would be costly and difficult to log. BC Parks have a boundary prohibiting barges within a certain distance of their waters, so these plots would have to be logged by helicopter, if they ever were, Neilsen said.

Love of the land is a driving force for Neilsen. He loves to get back out into nature, and would often camp on his various properties around the province on what he calls survival trips.

“I don’t take much food, just a bit of brown sugar and salt. I smoke the fish and the meat that I catch.” Coming home from a trip like that makes him appreciate the things he has — his wife, his dog, a home-cooked meal.

The 60 hectare rectangle of land near Guise Bay was one of his favourites. He’s camped there often, sometimes walking from the west coast to the east coast of Vancouver Island’s northern tip.

“Age creeps up on you, and you have to be careful, especially if you have a wife,” he said. He’s been gradually selling off his land, as many as 450 lots at one time. He’s now down to about 20.

He’s glad to have these lots in BC Parks’ hands. “I gave them a real good deal, because like I say, I believe they should stay in B.C. hands.

BC Parks had no immediate comment on plans for the land, but said they would provide a statement in coming months.

RELATED: B.C. mogul sells Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

Updated to include commens from Rudy Neilsen.

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