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CBT giving over $2 million to local ecosystem enhancement projects

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is providing grants to four large-scale ecosystem enhancement projects and four smaller-scale initiatives.

“Large-scale projects of this size can make big differences when it comes to ecological health and native biodiversity,” said Johnny Strilaeff, CBT President and CEO. “Maintaining, improving, enhancing, restoring—these are some of the goals when it comes to taking care of the vital landscapes and waterscapes that make up this region’s natural spaces.”

CBT officials said almost $2 million through its Ecosystem Enhancement Program to four projects across the region.

“In addition, the Trust is providing $257,000 for four smaller-scale and shorter-term projects—also prioritizing on-the-ground action—that intend to improve ecological health and native biodiversity,” said CBT officials.

Details on a few of the projects can be found below.

Bummers Flats

CBT officials said funding will be used to restore wetland habitats near Fort Steele.

“In the 1970s, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) enhanced Bummers Flats near Fort Steele to stabilize water levels to improve waterfowl breeding habitat,” said CBT officials. “Alongside partners like ʔaq̓am, The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC) and the Province of BC, the organization is now taking a further step by re-activating the natural flooding of the Kootenay River within the Bummers Flats Conservation Area Complex, managed by DUC, NTBC and the Province.”

Work will include removing dikes and ditches and re-establishing natural inlets and outlets to the river.

“The five-year project will positively impact ecosystems along the river, improving habitat for species like the Columbia spotted frog and the at-risk northern leopard frog,” said CBT officials.

“The project vision is to return Bummers Flats to a naturalized, self‐sustaining ecosystem, driven by natural flood pulses and processes,” said Matthew Wilson, Head of Conservation Programs. “Dynamic processes will create a mosaic of wetland habitats with varying characteristics, enhancing the landscapes for many native species, including plants, invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals.”

Bull River Grassland Corridor

The Trust said the NTBC will use funding to undertake a five-year project aimed at restoring 28 hectares of dry, open grassland.

“Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, white‐tailed deer, mule deer and American badger—all these species and many more rely on the habitat contained in the Bull River Grassland Corridor and surrounding conservation land complex, located in the East Kootenay,” said CBT officials.

This work will include thinning the forest, creating wildlife trees and invasive plant control.

“Forest thinning will seek to mimic historic, fire-maintained conditions, increasing the quantity and quality of the forage available for ungulates and improving sightlines to support free movement and avoidance of predators,” said Michelle Daniel, Senior Field Operations Coordinator. “It will also restore areas of native plant diversity and habitat for a variety of wildlife that depend on dry, open forests.”

Slocan River

CBT officials said the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative will use its grant to support the Slocan River’s fish population in a side channel near Lemon Creek.

“Woody debris will be placed in the water, while live trees and shrubs will be planted along the bank, all to benefit juvenile rainbow trout by enhancing its rearing habitat,” said CBT officials.

“Mimicking what nature does and allowing nature to continue doing what it does is central to the project,” said Stephan Martineau, Manager. “For example, introducing large woody debris reduces floodwater velocity and energy and provides valuable rearing habitats for juvenile rainbow trout. Planting trees and shrubs will stabilize the banks, increase shade and lower water temperature, promoting aquatic life sustainability while providing additional habitat for birds and terrestrial wildlife.”

Peckham’s Range

CBT officials said the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society will lead a project aimed at a number of foothill areas in the Steeples Mountain range.

“Places like Tamarack Lake, Little Shoe, Horseshoe and Big Hill lie at the base of the Steeples mountain ridge in the East Kootenay, in Peckham’s Range Unit,” said CBT officials Here, the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society is undertaking a five-year project on Crown land to improve habitat on 60 hectares of forest, 7,000 square metres of wetland ecosystems and 163 hectares of grasslands.”

Work will include grass seeding, forest thinning and managing invasive plants.

“The plan will result in tangible benefits for wildlife through restoration of grassland, wetland and forest ecosystems,” said Marc Trudeau, Coordinator/Project Manager. “It will enhance forested wintering habitat for bighorn sheep; grasslands to the benefit of elk, deer and livestock; and overall ecosystem health and function around the wetland.”

You can see the minor projects set to receive funding here.


 

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