From Gerrards to grizzlies, wolverines, caribou, bull trout and bats, there is a long list of local species that will benefit from projects that the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) will be supporting this year in the Kootenay Lake and Creston area.
Overall, members of the FWCP’s Columbia region board approved approximately $5.6 million in funding 53 hands-on and research-based projects throughout the Columbia Basin, with at least 14 of those occurring in the Kootenay Lake and Creston area.
“This year we continue to fund large core projects, such as the northern leopard frog recovery project in the Creston Valley, but also smaller community-based ones such as seed funding to the East Shore Freshwater Habitat Society that is trying to prioritize restoration opportunities on Crawford Creek,” said FWCP Columbia board public representative Grant Trower. “Regardless of the project size, they all must align with our strategic action plans.”
Other local projects supported by the FWCP include assessing Gerrard rainbow trout abundance in Kootenay Lake, understanding connectivity of wolverine habitat in the South Columbia Mountains, delivering various wetland workshops including one in Creston, mapping hibernacula (winter roosts) for maps before white nose syndrome arrives in the province, restoring riparian habitat on Indian Creek, determining the status of western painted turtles in the Creston Valley, and adding nutrients to the North Arm of Kootenay Lake.
The FWCP is a partnership between public stakeholders, First Nations, BC Hydro, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of BC to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by BC Hydro dams.
It delivers conservation and enhancement projects in three ways: calls for project applications each year, through a long-term agreement, currently with the Province of BC to deliver core FWCP operational projects, and through issuing calls for proposals (directed projects) to deliver projects viewed as local priorities by the FWCP Columbia board.
“This has allowed us to increase grants, project diversity, and the number of project partners,” said FWCP Columbia program manager Crystal Klym. “Working more closely with First Nations, government agencies, consultants, stewardship groups and others has enabled us to broaden the range of hands-on and science-based fish and wildlife projects implemented.”
FWCP spending of $5.6 million in the Columbia Region in 2015-2016 includes $513,315 spread across 11 projects in the upper Kootenay River watershed, thanks to support from Columbia Basin Trust. The FWCP receives the bulk of its funding from BC Hydro and also operates in the Coastal and Peace regions.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that fish and wildlife are conserved and enhanced for future generations,” said Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. “This year alone, the FWCP will be helping to deliver approximately 124 projects across the province, at a value of $8.9 million, to support fish, wildlife, and their habitats in areas with hydroelectric operations. The projects are selected by local regional boards that have representation from the public, First Nations, [Fisheries and Oceans Canada], the Province of BC and BC Hydro.”
For a full list of projects supported by the FWCP in 2015-2016, visit fwcp.ca.
—FISH AND WILDLIFE COMPENSATION PROGRAM