The province of B.C. and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) have signed a 30-year agreement to jointly operate the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA).
In making the announcement yesterday, Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said, “The B.C. government is committed to protecting this important ecosystem, and it welcomes Ducks Unlimited Canada’s involvement to help restore and manage the site over the next three decades. This agreement will greatly assist the operation of the Creston Valley WMA and further enhance its international reputation.”
Under the agreement, DUC will inject $850,000 in 2012 to improve wetland habitats and upgrade the site’s water management. The work will include a detailed restoration plan, increased community engagement, a long-term strategic plan and an evaluation of public education and outreach programs.
“It’s exciting to see a partner like Ducks Unlimited come in,” Regional District of Central Kootenay Area A director Larry Binks said today. “DUC has the ability to spend dollars and the wisdom, knowledge and experience to do so wisely.”
He said the immediate priority is the CVWMA “plumbing” — gates, dikes, pumps and infrastructure that will keep the wetland in good operating condition — and to get local representation onto the current governing board.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Creston Valley as a whole,” he said. “It will help attract tourism and make the area more user friendly by changing the way we do business.”
Inviting local bids on contract work will be a priority, Binks added.
“I’m going to make sure that the work goes out to bids so contractors in the Creston Valley get a chance,” he said.
“Ducks Unlimited Canada is looking forward to working with the ministry and CVWMA staff to restore and improve the site’s outstanding wetland habitats,” said Brad Arner, manager of provincial operators for DUC in B.C. “This area is home to hundreds of fascinating animal and plant species that will benefit from this partnership for many years to come.”
Restrictions to vehicle access and user charges for fishing has put the CVWMA in the news in recent months. Among the many area residents who have protested the lack of a local voice on CVWMA’s governing board, Gord and Barb Ogilvie have been some of the most vocal in expressing their concerns.
“We’re doing the happy dance,” Barb said this morning. “I think we are turning the leaf to its good side and it will be great to have a local representative on the board.”
Until now, the CVWMA has functioned as a provincial crown agency and operated as a non-profit organization with federal charitable status.
In 2008, the provincial government initiated a review of the CVWMA’s management structure and financial sustainability. As a result of that review, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will designate the CVWMA under the Wildlife Act and bring its governance structure into line with B.C.’s 22 other wildlife managerment areas.
According to a news release by Thomson’s ministry, a wildlife management area is a piece of property that has been recognized by the provincial government as having particular ecological significance. The designation of a wildlife management area under the Wildlife Act promotes the protection, conservation and management of important species and habitats within that area.
The CVWMA is located in a natural flood plain between the Purcell and Selkirk mountains, just south of Kootenay Lake. It covers 7,000 hectares and features lakes, diked marshlands, sloughs and areas containing grasslands, shrubs and forests. There are currently 23 wildlife management areas throughout British Columbia. They range in size from 17 hectares (the Coquitlam River Wildlife Management Aarea) to over 122,000 hectares (the Todagin Wildlife Management Aarea). The provincial government has established similar partnerships with Ducks Unlimited Canada in other wildlife management areas in B.C., such as the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area in the Fraser Valley.