The Columbia Basin Trust’s Environment Grants program is awarding $650,000 in funding to 16 environmental initiatives, some of which is coming to support projects and causes in the East Kootenay.
Local projects include an Indigenous partnership on historical and cultural programming as it relates to the environment, as well as another one that involves grasslands near Cranbrook, according to a CBT news release.
“These grants will support people of the Basin to better understand and celebrate nature, study ecological changes taking place, as well as creating on-the-ground improvements to the environment,” said Brianna Burley, Manager, Environment with the Columbia Basin Trust. “Monitoring and restoration of sensitive ecosystems, land-based education built on partnerships with Indigenous community groups, and species reintroduction are just some of the community-driven projects we are proud to support.”
A partnership between community of ʔaq̓am, ʔaq̓amnik’ Elementary School, key Ktunaxa Nation Council staff and Columbia Outdoor School will develop programs that highlight history, culture and stewardship practice as it relates to the environment.
The intent is to connect students with the landscape while considering and respecting traditional and current Indigenous ways of thinking and doing.
“With help from ʔaq̓am staff and community, we will aid in the transfer of Indigenous teachings to the outdoors by building a progressive, culturally aligned curriculum that will help teachers throughout the Basin deliver outdoor programming,” said Shonna Murphy, Director of Programs, Columbia Outdoor School. “While connecting to the land, students will also build leadership skills, develop positive self-identity and share their personal skills and traditional knowledge.”
Grassland remediation near the Canadian Rockies International Airport near Cranbrook also received funding from the Columbia Basin Trust.
The Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society will take the lead on ecosystem restoration by removing Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine trees that are encroaching on grasslands, through manual techniques or prescribed burns. Further work includes managing invasive plants, conducting an inventory of American badger habitat and creating ‘wildlife’ trees for species that use elements such as holes or loose bark.
“Thanks to decades of fire suppression, trees have gradually encroached upon these grasslands,” said Marc Trudeau, Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society. “This project will mitigate this shift, while also helping to create a more resilient ecosystem by reintroducing fire to the landscape and reducing the chance of a catastrophic wildfire.”
Further projects in the region includes educational programming added to the Riverside Forest Walk near Revelstoke as well as additional conservation efforts for wetlands and watershed habitats in the Columbia Valley.