About This 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.
Park Size: 76,825 hectares of upland and 7,592 hectares of foreshore
Know Before You Go
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Mussel Inlet (Laiq):
- 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.
Mussel River (Laiq) / Poison Cove Special Management Area
- Although all estuary systems within the Fiordland Conservancy are sensitive and important ecosystems, the Mussel River (Laiq) is an especially significant system for bears and other wildlife.
- The Mussel River (Laiq) and Poison Cove areas 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.
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 Mussel River Guardian Watchmen.
- Information about the Mussel River (Laiq) / Poison Cove Special Management Area [PDF]
- Firearms are restricted below 1000m within the special management zone [PDF]
BC Parks and the Kitasoo Xai’xais respectfully request a voluntary restriction on low-level aircraft access in the Mussel River 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 Peter Woods, Central Coast Area Supervisor, at 1-250-982-2701 extension 4.
Special Regulations Mussel River (Laiq) / Poison Cove (peak fall season)
- When you arrive in the Mussel River / Poison Cove Area, please contact the Mussel River Guardian Watchmen on Marine Channel 6. As listed below, there are very specific rules and regulations for this area
- Land-based, guided access only in September in 2014 – with a permitted guide.
- Area closed to wildlife viewing after October 15.
- Water-Based Viewing Guidelines
- Check in with Mussel River Guardian Watchmen.
- Maximum one vessel viewing at a time.
- No viewing or boat access upstream of the lower Mussel River Island.
- Jet boats are not permitted.
- Maximum 14 people in total and all vessels must stay grouped together.
- Stay at least 50 M (160 ft) away from bears.
- All visitors not on a tour with a permitted operator need to receive an orientation prior to bear viewing and be guided by a Guardian or Spirit bear Lodge staff.”
- No viewing or vessel access upstream of the lower Mussel River island (see map) or upstream of the tidal flats in Poison Cove Creek (see map).
- Land-Based Viewing Guidelines
- Allowed with caution, but is not recommended.
- Check in with Mussel River Guardian Watchmen.
- No land access on Lower Mussel River island and the Mussel estuary other than the designated viewing site and interpretive rub tree (see 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.
- Bear spray is required by at least one person who is trained in its use.
- Firearms may not be carried while viewing.
- No pets are permitted in viewing areas.
- Food is not recommended.
Location and Maps
Fiordland 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.
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
- 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 on site and report to BC Parks: 250 982-2701 and Kitasoo /Xai’xais Coastal 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.
Activities Available at this Conservancy
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.
This park is open to hunting. Please refer to the BC Hunting & Trapping Regulations Synopsis for more information.
Firearms are restricted below 1000m [PDF] within the Mussel River Special Management Area.
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 [PDF] in the Mussel River Special Management Area.
Facilities Available at this Conservancy
- 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.