About Fiordland Conservancy

Fiordland Conservancy is a large marine park, encompassing Kynoch and Mussel Inlets, their estuaries and the surrounding mountainous landscape.

Fiordland’s scenery is very impressive. The area includes one of the finest examples of glacially gouged fiords on the British Columbia coast, where sheer granite cliffs rise more than 1000 metres. From the water, view the soaring peaks of the Coast Mountains, dense coastal forests, imposing waterfalls and lush river estuaries.

The deep fiords and steep valleys allow little shore space for travel or camping. The vegetation is lush and grows high, obscuring visibility. This area is home to both grizzly and black bears, so travelling on shore can be dangerous and is not recommended unless you are experienced in backcountry wilderness travel.

The conservancy can be accessed by boat or floatplane only; there are several fair anchorages.

Fiordland Conservancy is located within the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation territory and is co-managed under an agreement between the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation and the Province of British Columbia. BC Parks and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais are dedicated to the protection of natural environments for the inspiration, use, and enjoyment of all visitors. Together they are working hard to preserve this pristine wilderness.

Maps

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.

Láiq (Mussel Inlet) Special Management Area

Visiting the SMA

Access to this highly sensitive area is closely monitored and guidelines are strictly enforced. During peak season this area is managed jointly by BC Parks and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardians.

  • Land based access:
    • May 15-October 15 – ONLY WITH A DESIGNATED GUIDE.
      • When you arrive in Láiq, please contact the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardians on Marine Channel 6.
      • As listed below, there are very specific rules and regulations for this area.
    • October 16-May 14 – AREA CLOSED TO WILDLIFE VIEWING
  • Although all estuary systems within the Fiordland Conservancy are sensitive and important ecosystems, Mussel Inlet (Láiq) is an especially significant system for bears and other wildlife.
  • The Mussel River and Poison Cove areas (Láiq) offer some of the most valuable habitat for bears and wildlife on the Central Coast. During the fall season bears feed almost exclusively on salmon. The amount of salmon a bear eats relates directly to its chance of survival during the winter.

Maintaining ecologically sustainable, safe, and culturally sensitive tourism opportunities is an important management objective for these areas. The potential exists to negatively impact bears and wildlife if they are continually displaced from highly productive areas. As such there are guidelines for appropriate behaviour when in this area to help ensure the integrity of these special and significant places are preserved in their natural state for future generations.

Water-Based Viewing Guidelines
  • Check in with Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardians (vhf channel 6).
  • All visitors not on a tour with a permitted operator need to receive an orientation prior to bear viewing and be guided by a Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardian or Spirit Bear Lodge staff.
  • Maximum one vessel viewing at a time.
  • No viewing or boat access upstream of the lower Mussel River island [map] or upstream of the tidal flats in Poison Cove creek [map].
  • Jet boats are not permitted.
  • Maximum 14 people in total.
  • Stay at least 30 M (~100 ft) away from bears.
Land-Based Viewing Guidelines
  • Check in with Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardians.
  • All visitors not on a tour with a permitted operator need to receive an orientation prior to bear viewing and be guided by a Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardian or Spirit Bear Lodge staff.
  • No land access within the Láiq Special Management area other than designated viewing site, interpretive rub tree, and designated dog walking area [map]. These areas are off limits to viewing, hiking or any other form of access.
  • Maximum of 14 people permitted on shore at one time. Visitors MUST stay grouped together.
  • Stay at least 30 M (~100 ft) away from bears.
  • Bear spray required by at least one person who is trained in its use.
  • Firearms may not be carried while viewing.
  • Pets permitted ONLY in the designated dog walking area [map].
  • Please do not take food onto land.
Aircraft Access

BC Parks and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais respectfully request a voluntary restriction on low-level aircraft access in the Láiq (Mussel Inlet) Special Management Area. This area offers high value critical habitat for bear and mountain goat, both of which are particularly sensitive to loud noise. Due to the high narrow valley topography of this area, the impacts from aircraft noise are increased. We request that flights occur at no less than 500m above the surrounding terrain and that this area be avoided by aircraft entirely unless required for emergencies or with previous approval. Please contact Central Coast Area Supervisor at 250-982-2701.

Special Notes
  • Moderate anchorage in David Bay, less secure at the head of the Inlet.
  • Mussel / Poison Cove, poor or day anchorages.
  • Scenic waterfalls: McAlpin and Lisette Falls.
  • Significant estuary at the Mussel River.
  • Outstanding rock formations, granite walls.

Fiordland Conservancy Activities

Hunting
  • Firearms are restricted below 1000m within the Láiq (Mussel Inlet) Special Management Area [map].
  • This park is open to hunting. Please refer to the BC Hunting and Trapping Regulations for more information.
  • It is illegal to hunt grizzly bears and spirit bears in Fiordland Conservancy. 
Camping

Campfires

If you must have a fire, please burn only dead and down wood, and be sure to extinguish the fire fully. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil so please use it conservatively, if at all. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.

Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but not recommended.

  • No facilities are provided.
  • Limited space to camp, and there are no designated sites.
  • High frequency of bear activity.
  • These are often areas of cultural sensitivity.
  • Sleeping on-board your vessel is recommended.

Camping is not permitted in the Láiq (Mussel Inlet) Special Management Area except at the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardian Cabin [map].

Pets on Leash

Pets on Leash

Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.

Pets are not permitted on shore in the Láiq (Mussel Inlet) Special Management Area, except in the designated dog walking area [map].

 

Paddling

There are opportunities for sea kayaking in this conservancy. Sea kayakers find Fiordland Conservancy well worth visiting; however, there are very few camping sites due to the steep topography of the area. Outflow winds are a major hazard, exacerbated by the scarcity of safe landing spots. Be prepared to spend days on shore waiting for safe conditions.

Fishing

Fishing for groundfish or salmon is possible. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Note: the entire coast is closed to bivalve harvest (i.e. clams and mussels) due to the risk of red tide, which causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Management Planning
  • A management plan is being developed for Fiordland Conservancy. For more information and to provide input into the process, click here.
Staying Safe
  • Strong winds can pick up quickly, channelled by the deep fiords. This can result in potentially hazardous conditions for small vessels. Vessels are advised to have plenty of anchor rope due to the considerable water depth in the few anchorages.
  • The harvest of bivalves is closed due to red tide and the potential for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
  • Due to the high number of grizzly and black bears on shore, travel on land is not recommended.
  • Bring your own drinking water as potable water is not available in the conservancy.
  • There are no developed trails in the conservancy. Be extremely cautious if you venture ashore. The bush is dense and can conceal nearby grizzly bears.
  • Keep pets on leash at all times while on shore. Backcountry areas are not suitable for pets due to potential problems with bears.
Location & Size
  • Fiordland Conservancy is accessed by water and air only. It encompasses Kynoch and Mussel Inlets, located about 100 km northwest of Bella Coola. It is a popular side trip destination for those cruising the Inside Passage to Alaska. The closest community for purchase of supplies is Klemtu and then Bella Bella.
  • Please consult Canadian Hydrographic chart #3962 – Matheison Channel, Northern Portion.
  • Fiordland Conservancy is made up of 76,825 hectares of upland and 7,592 hectares of foreshore.
History

The area was originally protected as a recreation area in 1987 but was converted to a conservancy in 2006 pursuant to government land use decisions in the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan area.

Cultural Heritage

Fiordland is the territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations. It is illegal to disturb cultural heritage sites or remove artifacts from them. Please leave any cultural artifacts you find in-situ and report to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardians or Kitasoo/Xai’xais Stewardship Office at 250-839-1096.

Conservation

Fiordland Conservancy was created to protect a spectacular representative of the Northern Fiordlands Landscape. Protecting such landscapes is key to BC Parks’ mandate of representing BC’s ecosystems in the protected area system. The biogeoclimatic zones in the area are coastal western hemlock, mountain hemlock and alpine tundra.

Wildlife

The conservancy’s wide variety of wildlife enjoy excellent coastal habitat. It offers two major river estuaries which provide lush vegetation and a variety of fresh salmon during the spawning season. The conservancy provides habitat for mountain goats, grizzly and black bears, wolves, cougars, Columbia black tailed deer and small mammals, as well as the marine mammals, waterfowl and shorebirds typical of coastal inlets.

Kynoch Inlet
  • Moderate anchorage in Culpepper Lagoon and Desbrisay Bay, less secure at the head of the inlet.
  • Scenic waterfall at the entrance to the inlet, draining Lessum Creek.
  • Significant estuaries at Kainet and Lard Creeks, smaller estuaries at Desbrisay Bay and Riot Creek.
  • Outstanding upland features with sheer granite cliff and walls.