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Friends of Kootenay Lake on hiatus due to funding, volunteer issues

The environmental organization runs a number of initiatives
Residents install kokanee shore spawner egg tubes in the West Arm of Kootenay Lake as part of an initiative by Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society in 2020. Photo: Submitted

One of the West Kootenay’s most active environmental organizations has paused operations due to what a founding director says are decreases in funding and volunteers.

The Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society (FoKLSS) has announced it is on a self-imposed hiatus. Board chair Martin Carver, one of the society’s founding directors, said the break was necessary to address “looming financial issues, issues around capacity and governance, and just being accountable for all the things that we do.”

The society was formed in 2012 and has worked to study and maintain the Kootenay Lake ecosystem with a variety of programs.

It’s initiatives include monitoring shore spawning and Osprey populations, hauling trash out of the lake, checking the lake’s water quality and cleaning Styrofoam shards off shorelines.

But Carver said it became clear to the board late last year that FoKLSS was losing money and could no longer sustainably fund its staff and programming.

Three grant applications totalling $60,000 were not approved, and a GoFundMe raised just $4,135 of its $15,000 target. Two of the society’s three staff members have since been laid off and most of its initiatives have been suspended.

The ongoing issue for FoKLSS, Carver said, is a lack of reliable funding that carries over annually.

“We don’t have that reliable funding base,” said Carver. “The underbelly of us is just not strong. We don’t have solid roots in the ground, and then when the situation with the decline in capacity at the top is happening, the whole thing starts to shake.”

The society is also struggling to find volunteers willing to commit to the board of directors. The society hopes to keep its structure and programming intact, but Carver said doing so will require fresh faces.

Until that happens, Carver isn’t sure when FoKLSS will resume operations. The society has missed the latest window for grant applications, and its next annual general meeting isn’t until October.

“We are putting it out to the community that we need some kind of reinvigoration, some additional energy in volunteerism especially at the board level. We have a number of ideas for how we could reconstitute, but I don’t believe the existing board has the capacity to pull that off. We need new people.”


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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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