Fiordland Conservancy. British Columbia’s impressive Fiordland encompasses Kynoch Inlet and Mussel Inlet along with their estuaries and the surrounding soaring peaks of the Coast Mountains. The Fiordland Conservancy is a massive scenic wilderness, covering nearly 200,000 acres of uplands and 18,752 acres of foreshore. These inlets are deep fiords with sheer granite cliffs that rise over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above the sea, with imposing waterfalls and lush river estuaries. Accessible by boat, mariners are privileged to view this incredible area, which is co-managed by BC Parks and the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation.

The Fiordland Conservancy, located at the northern reaches of Mathieson Channel, is home to wildlife including both grizzly and black bears. All estuary systems within the Fiordland Conservancy are sensitive, important ecosystems. Mussel Inlet and Poison Cove offer the most valuable habitat for bears. During the fall season, bears feed almost exclusively on salmon, insuring their chance of survival during the winter.

Within the Mussel Inlet area, there are two designated water-based bear viewing sites that have been set aside with special provisions – the Mussel Estuary at the head of Mussel Inlet, and the Poison Cove Estuary at the head of Poison Cove – see the Fiordland Mussel River & Poison Cove Map for these designated areas. Anchoring and viewing bears outside these designated viewing areas is allowed all year.

Map of Mussel Inlet showing bear viewing estuaries

From May 1 through August 14, pleasure boaters may enter the Mussel Estuary and Poison Cove Estuary for water-based wildlife viewing purposes, with a maximum of 16 people allowed at any one time in these estuary viewing areas. Pleasure boaters who wish to enter the Mussel Estuary or Poison Cove Estuary for water-based viewing during the peak season, August 15 through October 15, may do so only with a permitted guide (KX Guardians or BC Park Rangers). During peak season, boaters are to contact Kitasoo Xai’xais Guardians on VHF Ch 6 regarding their intentions before entering upper Mussel Inlet and Poison Cove. Radio contact is best achieved when entering the eastern arm of Mussel Inlet. Going ashore is not permitted at any time of year, except at the designated campsite and dog walking area indicated on the map, which are outside the estuary bear viewing areas. The estuaries are closed to all bear and wildlife viewing October 16 through April 31. Pets are not permitted in the estuary viewing zones at any time.

The Kitasoo Xai’xais Guardian Program is intended to preserve this unique pristine area and help prevent bears from being displaced (a Watchmen Cabin is located about a half mile east of Barrie Point in Mussel Inlet along the south shore). While viewing bears, boats are to remain at least 50 meters or 160 feet away from the bears. Since the potential exists to negatively impact bears and wildlife, boaters are asked to limit their viewing time to 20 minutes. Approach and depart at slow boat speeds of 3 knots or less. With everyone’s help, this amazing wilderness will remain for future generations to enjoy.

Watchmen Cabin in Mussel Inlet

Similar to Mussel Inlet, Kynoch Inlet is a remote glacially carved fiord within the Fiordland Conservancy, featuring massive granite cliffs, fertile estuaries, and splendid waterfalls. Radio contact with Kitasoo Xai’xais Guardians is NOT required to enter Kynoch Inlet.

Because Fiordland Conservancy is an undeveloped wilderness area with no facilities, visitors should be totally self-sufficient and properly equipped. The village of Klemtu serves as a convenient staging area for trips into this very special wilderness. For more information, contact BC Parks area supervisor at 250-982-2701, or the Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority in Klemtu at 250-839-1096.

Khutze Conservancy. Located north of the Fiordland Conservancy in Khutze Inlet off Graham Reach, Khutze Conservancy encompasses the Khutze River Watershed, old-growth forests, and scenic mountains of high value to grizzly bears and other wildlife, covering nearly 85,000 acres. The Khutze Conservancy is under the joint management of BC Parks and the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation. Boaters are to contact the Kitasoo Xai’xais Guardians on VHF Ch 6 from July through October 15 before entering the Khutze water-based wildlife viewing area (a Watchmen Yurt is located on Green Spit). Anchoring and viewing bears outside the designated viewing area is allowed all year. Within the designated viewing area, a maximum of 16 people is allowed at any one time; public bear viewing is water based only. Public access to the Interpretive Site on land is allowed only with a permitted guide. Pets are not allowed in the viewing area. Dogs can go ashore on the north side of the inlet, approximately 1.5km northwest of the river mouth, across from Pardoe Point.

Map of Khutze Conservancy and bear viewing area