In The News

Maltby Lake Feature | Our Backyard Magazine
Prospect Lake Aquatic Plant Survey & Water Quality Testing
February 2019

Read the full article here

“Unquestionably, maintaining freshwater aquatic plant species and supplying plant data and reliable water quality measurements is important in any lake or wetland ecosystem.”

Our Backyard is a quarterly newsletter that highlights projects, announcements, events, and educational articles on the natural environment in Saanich.


Maltby Lake Feature | Our Backyard Magazine
October 2018

Read the full article here

“Critical to Maltby Lake’s health are the 172 acres of relatively undisturbed forest and wetlands that surround it. The property is an example of unspoiled lake and land ecosystems.” …”Freshwater jellyfish are often seen swimming just below the surface of Maltby Lake in mid-August; varying in size from 20 to 30mm (between the sizes of a shirt button and a loonie), and never less than a metre apart. They are considered benthic indicators of aquatic ecosystem health because they are sensitive to pollution and sudden changes in their environment.”

Our Backyard is a quarterly newsletter that highlights projects, announcements, events, and educational articles on the natural environment in Saanich.


FMLWS New Release: Update Fall 2018 – Where Are We Now?

A Re-introduction to Maltby Lake. Read the full release here.


25th Anniversary Secchi Dip-in!
July 2018

25th Anniversary Secchi Dip-in

Saanich, BC – Watershed stewards across the province dedicated to the promotion of clean and healthy water sources, took to their local lakes during the month of July to measure water transparency (turbidity) using Secchi disks and other testing instruments.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary Secchi Dip-In. Data collected is used to assess trends in water turbidity and contributes to the body of information needed to develop policies to protect lakes. Through regular status reports, the initiative provides communities with monitoring results specific to their local lake and educational material on lake health in general.
Since 1994, more than 10,000 trained volunteers have generated 42,000 transparency records, giving a glimpse of lake water transparency at sites across North America and the world.


Working to preserve our watersheds: November 26 EVENT
November 23, 2016

Read the full article here

There are hundreds of people in our community who volunteer to improve our local environment. They often organize around a particular part of nature or natural life…

To strengthen our interconnectedness and celebrate all the volunteers who work to restore and protect our precious watersheds, I am very pleased to invite you to a dinner and family-friendly event: I (heart) Watersheds. It will take place on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Cordova Bay United Church, from 5:30-9 p.m.

 The event is sponsored by my constituency office as well as the Peninsula Streams Society, Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society and the Cordova Bay United Church, with special thanks to the Capital Regional District and the District of Saanich.


Supreme Court of BC Approves Sale of 6% Undivided Interest in Maltby Lake
November 2016

Read the full article here

The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) has received Supreme Court of B.C. approval to transfer its 6% undivided interest in Maltby Lake in Saanich to the Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society (3%) and Carmel and Woody Thomson (3%)…


(Un)Safe passage: amphibians on the move | Focus Online
July 2016

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Habitat Acquisition Trust volunteers help to save local frogs, salamanders and other amphibians.


Diversity of Maltby Lake is worth protecting | Saanich News
June 2016

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…Few are aware of this extraordinary place even though it’s in the heart of Saanich and just 10 kilometers from downtown Victoria. There is no place closer to the provincial capital that surpasses Maltby Lake in terms of ecological value or wild beauty…


Maltby Lake’s ecological wonders | Focus Online
November, 2015

Read the full article here

Carmel and Woody Thomson show how love of place can keep it safe.

… In the midst of growing pressures from developers and ecosystem fragmentation region-wide, their recent efforts have helped safeguard Maltby Lake as one of the last undisturbed ecosystems in the Capital Region, and certainly the most untouched example in Saanich. After their success, however, two questions remain: Will the whole lake remain protected? And what should protection look like given the region’s growing population?…


BC Court Approves Transfer of Conservation Properties Setting TLC on Path to Realize Restructuring Plan

TLC The Land Conservancy Press Release
July 28, 2015

“Vancouver, BC – The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) received approval today from the Supreme Court of B.C. to transfer 27 conservation properties to The Nature Trust of B.C. (TNTBC) and The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for an agreed upon amount of $1.5 million.

…“We are heartened by the show of support from our members in the hundreds of letters we received in the past few weeks, and we are grateful for the pragmatic decision from Justice Fitzpatrick,” said John Shields, Director of Operations for TLC. “We continue to work carefully and diligently to implement the Plan of Arrangement, which will ensure TLC creditors are paid while our properties are protected to the greatest extent possible. We know that NCC and TNTBC will continue to protect the properties in the spirit in which they were originally saved.”

“Our success in Court on Tuesday has been the culmination of more than two years of difficult work by TLC’s Board and staff,” said Briony Penn, Chair of TLC’s Board of Directors. “With 31 of 39 property transfers in our Plan now approved, the first tranche will be completed this fall with full payments to TLC’s secured creditors. We are on track to do what we intended from the outset – to protect the properties through appropriate new ownership and covenants, as appropriate, while raising funds needed to repay creditors.””


Plan of Arrangement Approved by Creditors and Supreme Court of BC
Supreme Court of BC approves the transfer of the first property in the Plan

TLC The Land Conservancy Press Release
April 2, 2015

“Victoria, BC – The Supreme Court of B.C. approved the Plan of Arrangement as agreed upon by The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) and its creditors on April 2, 2015. The Court has also approved the sale of a portion of TLC’s undivided interest in Maltby Lake in Saanich.

…TLC received its 35% undivided interest in Maltby Lake as part of the estate of Catherine Holmes in 2009.

The Offer to Purchase 29% of TLC’s 35% interest was accepted from one of Catherine Holmes’ family members, Woody and Carmel Thomson. The Thomson’s Offer of $750,000 includes a protected area designation upon partition or subdivision of the property.

The Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society, a local conservation group supported by the community and various levels of government, have expressed interest in providing TLC with a contribution for the remaining 6% interest.

The transfers will see the original donor’s intentions upheld and the site protected.

…“The patience, flexibility and generosity of the creditors was a critical part of the success of this Plan being accepted. Also, the Board is deeply grateful to the lenders who got the process off the ground for without their support, we would never have started,” said Briony Penn, Chair of TLC’s Board. “The Thompson’s generosity to purchase the Maltby lands and commit to protect it with community support, was another key factor in kick-starting the Plan.” ”


Land Conservancy plan wins court approval

April 3, 2015

“The Land Conservancy of British Columbia is officially on its way to climbing out of its financial quagmire after its survival plan won court approval Thursday.

“It’s a fait accompli. We’ve done it,” a jubilant John Shields, director of operations, said after a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. “We’ve been struggling uphill for so long … to have actually gotten over the top is an elating experience.” ”

– See more at:


Land Conservancy creditors support plan to sell properties, cut debt

MARCH 31, 2015

“Creditors of The Land Conservancy of B.C. have voted overwhelmingly to support a plan to get out of debt that would also see it sell many of its properties. “It is a good day for the land-trust movement. It is a good day for nature. It is a good day for the creditors,” Briony Penn, chairwoman of the Victoria-based Land Conservancy, said Monday.”

– See more at:


Holdings would go to others in Land Conservancy debt plan

FEBRUARY 23, 2015 10:15 PM

…Creditors will vote on March 30. If they support the plan, it will go back to court for a final OK.”

– See more at:





Creditors to receive monies owed while TLC properties remain protected

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2015

Victoria, BC – The Land Conservancy of B.C.’s Plan of Arrangement was filed with the Supreme Court of B.C. on February 23, 2015.

The Land Conservancy of B.C. (“TLC”) sought protection pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act(CCAA) in October 2013 as a means to definitively resolve the organization’s debt to secured and unsecured creditors. The CCAA is federal legislation that grants an organization time to restructure while under the direction, supervision, and protection of the Court.

TLC’s intention from the start has been to pay all creditors to the fullest extent possible, to protect TLC properties to the greatest extent possible, and to ensure that TLC has long-term viability.

TLC has debts totaling $8,121,183.02 including $4,528,658.51 in secured debt and $3,592,524.51 in unsecured debt. Secured debt includes administrative charges incurred as part of the CCAA process, municipal property taxes, and mortgages the organization acquired in the past to complete property purchases when fundraising fell short.

Creditor’s Proofs of Claim were submitted by April 25, 2014, and the last claim was finalized on December 15, 2014.

TLC’s Plan includes a multi-faceted approach to eliminating the debt. It includes innovative approaches such as density transfers, specified donations, forgiveness of debt, heritage revitalization agreements, mortgage transfers, and partnership agreements with other Land Trusts and Societies.

The filed Plan of Arrangement would see secured creditors paid in full, have their secured debt assumed by a third party, or receive the mortgaged property in settlement of their secured debt, within six months. Unsecured creditors would receive payouts in three tranches within 18 months.

TLC predicts that enough revenue will be generated to cover its debt, uphold the complex responsibilities that come with transferring properties donated for charitable purposes, and to remain a viable organization.

In their 13th Report to the Court, the Court appointed Monitor, Wolrige Mahon Limited, confirms that the “Plan provides for maximum conservation and protection of the Core Properties and the Additional Properties that TLC intends to sell/transfer.” The Report goes on to say, “the Monitor considers the Plan to be fair and reasonable.”

Among other strategies, the Plan includes the transfer of allowable densities from Abkhazi Garden. The density sale will remove the development potential from the Garden and allow the site to be preserved with a heritage designation from the City of Victoria. A generous donor has stepped forward to pledge $539,000 to TLC upon the heritage designation being placed on the Garden. The site will remain in TLC’s care after the organization emerges from the CCAA process.

Ross Bay Villa will be transferred to the Ross Bay Villa Society, a group of volunteers that have spent years restoring the site, in exchange for a contribution to cover the pay out of the existing mortgage.

With the assistance of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, the non-profit organization that has partnered with TLC to protect the site since 2006, TLC is pursuing the application for a Heritage Revitalization Agreement from the City of Vancouver to protect the Historic Joy Kogawa House. The title of the property could then be transferred to the Society upon pay out of the mortgage from the proceeds of the agreement and after needed repairs and renovations to the house are completed or provision is made for such repairs and renovations from the proceeds of the agreement.

TLC is pleased to be working with The Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Nature Trust of British Columbia to protect many of TLC’s sensitive ecological lands. The Plan of Arrangement includes 28 conservation properties to be transferred to the two Land Trusts for protection. If the Plan of Arrangement is accepted by the creditors, these transfers will ensure that the conservation values of the lands remain protected.

The Court has already approved the sale of three properties earlier this year; Keating Farm, Eagle Bluff, and a development property in Sechelt.

Funds from sales are held in trust by the Monitor, Wolrige Mahon Ltd., for distribution to creditors.

In addition to permitting the filing of TLC’s Plan of Arrangement, the Court has ordered a meeting for creditors to consider the plan on March 30, 2015. For the Plan to be approved, a majority of those voting in person or by proxy from each class of the creditors (being secured and unsecured), representing two thirds of the total value of the debt in that class, must vote in favour of the Plan.

Upon the approval of the Plan by creditors, in accordance with the requirements of the CCAA process, TLC will immediately apply to the Court for a final order of approval of the Plan. After the final order TLC will be bound to do what is required under the Plan to fulfill its terms. The existing stay of proceedings under the CCAA would continue until the filing of the certificate of completion by the Monitor or until the Court otherwise orders.

Upon completion of the Plan of Arrangement TLC will continue to own Abkhazi Garden and Madrona Farm, among other properties, and hold more than 200 covenants throughout B.C.

“The future of TLC looks very bright,” said John Shields, Director of Operations for TLC. “We will continue to fulfill our responsibilities with this financial solution and look forward to a positive outcome for both our properties and creditors.”

“Satisfying our creditors while balancing our moral obligations to protect properties has been our goal for the last couple of years,” said Briony Penn, Chair of TLC’s Board. “We are thrilled to have the Plan of Arrangement filed with the Court and are excited to begin the next chapter in TLC’s evolution.”

The proposed Plan or Arrangement is available on TLC’s website,, and Wolrige Mahon Limited’s website,

About The Land Conservancy of BC:

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is a non-profit, charitable Land Trust working throughout British Columbia. TLC’s primary mandate is to benefit the community by protecting habitat for natural communities of plants and animals. Founded in 1997, TLC is a membership-based and governed by an elected, volunteer Board of Directors. TLC relies on a strong membership and volunteer base to help maintain its operations.

Media contact: John Shields, TLC Director of Operations (250) 479-8053


MEDIA RELEASE  February 19, 2015

The Land Conservancy in BC Supreme Court with Plan for Sale of Maltby Lake

The Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society learned this week that The Land Conservancy goes before Justice Fitzpatrick on Monday, February 23, 2015 in the Supreme Court of BC in Vancouver.  The court will hear TLC’s entire Plan of Arrangement as it relates to all TLC properties, its creditors and operations.  It is a critical step forward for TLC, protecting not only Maltby Lake but also other unique TLC properties.

Included in the Plan of Arrangement, The Land Conservancy has signed a $750,000 offer from Woody and Carmel Thomson to purchase the majority of TLC’s interest in Maltby Lake.  While the final disposition of the Agreement rests with the BC Supreme Court Justice, the Thomsons have signed a document as part of their offer, guaranteeing legally binding conservation, covenant and protection articles that would help preserve Maltby Lake’s biodiversity and expansive watershed, and would honour the intent of the donor who originally gifted the property to the TLC.  Once the Plan is approved by the Court, the arrangement would be binding on The Land Conservancy and all other parties included in the Plan.

TLC may choose to retain its remaining interest in the property or sell it to the community.  To date, $180,000 has been pledged by community, family and neighbours towards the $250,000 needed to purchase the property, if the TLC makes the land available.

In his 12th Report to the Court, the Monitor agreed to TLC’s application to obtain from the Court on February 23, 2015 an order to proceed with the Plan. He also recommended TLC be granted an extension to April 30, 2015 to allow TLC time to finalize the terms of the Plan and to meet with its creditors to vote on the Plan. Barring any adverse affects, it is anticipated the Plan could be finalized by April 2, 2015.


Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society   250 595-1205


Lots of GOOD NEWS to share & an Appeal for Help!

TLC’s 35% interest in Maltby Lake is part of TLC’s overall “Plan of Arrangement”. TLC has accepted Carmel & Woody Thomson’s offer to purchase a large portion of its interest in Maltby Lake: 29% of the Maltby Lake lands for $750,000. It is hoped funds to purchase TLC’s remaining 6% interest can be raised by reaching out to the community. Friends of the Maltby Lake Watershed Society working with their community partners are grateful to those who have to date pledged $178,000 towards its $250,000 goal to purchase the remaining 6%. Thank you!

Small and large amounts are gratefully accepted by completing the pledge form under our pledge link.

See the most recent media update in the Times Colonist, below:


TLC could get some relief from creditors


JANUARY 29, 2015 08:55

People enjoying Abkhazi Garden on a sunny summer afternoon in 2012.   Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist

A group of creditors is ready to forgive about $2 million owed by The Land Conservancy of B.C. in order to help preserve ecologically important properties.

In addition, a coalition of other trusts is banding together with a proposal to pay $1.5 million to buy properties from The Land Conservancy and protect them, said John Shields, the organization’s operations manage.

Further details are not being immediately released.

The non-profit organization is also seeking a developer to buy $1.5 million worth of housing density under a proposal that would keep the Abkhazi Garden on Fairfield Road intact. The Garden’s current zoning allows for

12 townhouses and a home to be built on an adjoining lot.

Instead, the idea is to sell that housing development potential to a developer to build on another location. The proposal would require City of Victoria approval following public hearings.

These are some of the pieces of a complex puzzle the Victoria-based conservancy is trying to arrange in a plan that would allow it to climb out of a debt of $8 million while preserving as many of its properties as possible.

More than a year has passed since The Land Conservancy sought court approved protection from creditors. Wolrige and Mahon, the court-appointed monitor, is asking for an extension to April 30.

The Land Conservancy owns about 50 properties, with ecological and heritage value, around the province. Some have been sold and others are expected to be sold to pay debts.

The process has been complicated by legal fights about what should happen with particular sites. Many properties have their own group of advocates, who do not necessarily agree with The Land Conservancy plans.

A court case saw The Land Conservancy lose the Binning House in West Vancouver after a challenge over a will. Families of former owners and part-owners of land are also in disputes with the organization.

One group working with The Land Conservancy is the Ross Bay Villa Society, which has raised $88,000 toward its $130,000 goal. The society is hoping to pay off the mortgage and take ownership of the partly restored heritage house from The Land Conservancy.

Debt consists of about $3 million to secured creditors, $1.5 million to professionals such as the monitor and lawyers, and $3.5 million to unsecured creditors. Secured creditors will be paid in full, Shields said.

A meeting of creditors was held this month to find out if there was interest in giving the organization more time to pay or in forgiving all or part of its debts with the goal of staving off sales of important properties. A letter was also sent to all unsecured creditors.

The amount that unsecured creditors appear willing to forgive works out to about $2 million, under the formula set out in federal legislation for a proposal to succeed.

A plan outlining the creditors’ willingness to forgive some of the debt will go before the Supreme Court on Feb. 23. Shields is hoping the monitor will support it. If the court agrees, the proposal will go to the creditors for a meeting, likely to be held March 30.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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CBC Interview with John Sheilds, TLC Executive Director, on January 8, 2015.  References the creditors meeting and next steps for the organization that holds the fate of many properties, including Malty Lake, in their hands.


Saanich News – December 26, 2014

Maltby Lake families head to court for ‘invaluable land’

John Woody Thomson and Carmel Thomson outside their home on the edge of Maltby Lake in West Saanich. - Daniel Palmer/News staff

John Woody Thomson and Carmel Thomson outside their home on the edge of Maltby Lake in West Saanich.

— Image Credit: Daniel Palmer/News Staff

The fate of a pristine West Saanich lake and its surrounding woodland remains in the hands of the Supreme Court of B.C. as two parties fight to purchase a stake in the property from The Land Conservancy of B.C.

Maltby Lake, an 18-acre private lake about 1.5 kilometres south of Prospect Lake, is home to freshwater jellyfish and sponges, painted turtles, cutthroat trout and considered one of the best examples of undisturbed ecologicial diversity in the Capital Region.

“Right now, our goal is to get the land in our hands for safe keeping. That’s the only way we can safeguard it in perpetuity,” said Carmel Thomson, a self-described “environmental steward” and resident of Maltby Lake with husband John “Woody” Thomson.

The couple own a 10 per cent stake in the 170-acre lands surrounding the lake, while another 55 per cent belongs to members of the Holmes and Dumbleton family. The Land Conservancy owns the remaining 35 per cent, valued at just over $2 million, according to documents filed by court-appointed monitor Wolrige Mahon Ltd. last week.

The monitor is overseeing the sale of some of 8,300 acres of TLC assets to help pay down $7.5 million the conservation society owes to creditors. The Maltby sale is now leading to a very public dispute between the Thomsons and the property’s other three owners, collectively known as the Holmes Group.

“The other families are saying they have no immediate plans to develop the properties, but they’re not promising an environmental covenant like we are,” Woody said.

Lana Popham, B.C. MLA for Saanich South, attended a Dec. 15 court hearing with the Thomsons and said she’s been mindful of respecting the private ownership of the land.

“But because TLC is involved, I think it’s in the public interest to watch this situation closely,” Popham said.

“It’s fair to say all the owners have been stewarding the lake to this point, but whatever solution we come up with as far as who owns what, the area needs to be protected,” Popham added.

(Below: A quiet afternoon on Maltby Lake.)

Complicating the issue is the fact that none of the owners possess legally distinct parcels of land. Rather, each owner holds a percentage of the overall property as an undivided interest.

“The undivided interest brings complexities to the situation,” Carmel said. “Other land trusts don’t want to take that on. So what we’re doing is trying to purchase TLC’s share and hold it in care until the property goes to fee simple.”

The TLC is keen to accept a $750,000 offer from the Thomsons to purchase a portion of its land, but the monitor states the amount isn’t adequate.

The Thomsons hope to convert the land to a protected park and say they’ve already received more than $170,000 in pledges from the Friends of Maltby Lake Watershed Society and others in the community to purchase the TLC’s remaining stake.

The Thomsons have promised to sign an agreement with TLC where they would eventually transfer the land to another land trust or the municipality, though many factors remain unclear.

“This is invaluable land, but we’re offering what we can to keep it protected,” Carmel said.

Michael and Richard Holmes, part of the Holmes Group of owners, have collectively offered $1 million for TLC’s 35-per-cent stake. The brothers said in a statement that the interests of private property owners should be respected and that TLC had been “trying to expropriate our property without compensation or consultation in conjunction with a minority owner of the property.”

“We have not developed or subdivided our property and this should be respected and recognized rather than vilified as developers in waiting,” the Holmes brothers said. “We are very respectful of the public desire to preserve the unique environmental qualities of Maltby Lake and believe we have been doing so as a family for over a hundred years.”

Properties purchased by TLC are regulated under the Charitable Purposes Preservation Act of B.C. (CPPA), which prevents land within a trust to be sold or seized to repay debts. A judge must now decide how to proceed with the Maltby sale, expected sometime in early 2015.

Whatever the outcome, it’s clear the lake offers a pristine watershed championed for protection by biologists from the Peninsula Streams Society and Friends of Tod Creek Watershed.

“The plan we have presented to the TLC is a win-win for everybody,” Carmel said. “TLC receives some money to pay off some creditors. The land stays the way it is until we go to fee simple, and the community that’s helped us fundraise could potentially see a park there.”

Times Colonist Article - December 19, 2014

 Court to decide fate of Saanich’s Maltby Lake property

DECEMBER 15, 2014 11:15 AM

Briony Penn, serving as a TLC consultant, said the Thomson offer is preferred because it has more protective covenants and it most closely meets the intentions of Catherine Holmes.   Photograph By Submitted

The Land Conservancy and its monitor are squaring off over the fate of Maltby Lake in Saanich this morning in the Supreme Court of B.C. in Vancouver.

At issue is what will happen to land partly owned by the Victoria-based, non-profit TLC, a conservation organization in creditor protection.

Maltby Lake property consists of approximately 170 acres of land and 18 acres of lake. It has been in the Holmes and Dumbleton family for more than a century, a report from the court-appointed monitor states in his latest report.

Members of the Holmes family hold 55 per cent of the land, 35 per cent was willed to the TLC, and another 10 per cent is owned by the Thomson family.

TLC’s holdings were willed to it by Catherine Holmes, who had hoped that “Pip’s Park,” in honour of her late husband, would be established, although that wish is not legally binding, the monitor said.

B.C. Assessment values the Maltby Lake property at $5.9 million. The TLC’s share would be worth $2 million, the monitor said.

Its board accepted an offer of $750,000 from Thomson. Under that plan, the TLC would retain six per cent of the property, giving it a say in its future. The Holmes family offered $1 million, the monitor’s report said.

Briony Penn, serving as a TLC consultant, said the Thomson offer is preferred because it has more protective covenants and it most closely meets the intentions of Catherine Holmes.

No sale can take place without approval of the court.

The monitor said that neither offer is acceptable. He wants a sale price closer to appraised values and also said that wishes of creditors need to be taken into account.

The organization is more than $7.5 million in debt.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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Lana Popham Blog – Inside Saanich South

Critical Moment for Maltby Lake

Dear Friends,This Monday a BC Supreme Court will hear arguments about the future of Maltby Lake.

The Land Conservancy owns 35% of this Saanich property but is under pressure from its Court-appointed Monitor to sell off its share to the highest bidder. (TLC has been under Creditor Protection since late 2013.)

Many people in Saanich have contacted me to say that if a sale is ordered by the court it must be to a bidder that will accept an obligation to maintain its natural state. Such a bidder has come forward. The individuals involved have widespread support from the community at large, local Saanich Councillors, local conservationist organizations, and even from the general membership and Board of TLC.

Now we are looking to the BC Supreme Court to recognize this significant public support and fairly balance the valid financial interests of TLC’s creditors with the environmental importance of the watershed itself.

Let’s not forget that the beauty and ecological value of this watershed is extraordinary.