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Columbia Basin Trust supports ecosystem restoration programs around the region

CBT’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program funds 10 projects
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is restoring ecosystems in grasslands, open forests and wetlands with support of Columbia Basin Trust. Lyle Grisedale photo.

Columbia Basin Trust’s most recent Ecosystem Enhancement Program will provide funding to ten projects that seek to enhance biodiversity and ecosystems throughout the region.

CBT will distribute $2.6 million in support to four large-scale projects around the Basin and $316,000 to six smaller scale, shorter-term projects, to prioritize on-the-ground action aimed at improving ecological health and native biodiversity.

The Ecosystem Enhancement Program has supported 27 total programs.

“Basin residents have been clear in expressing their priority for on-the-ground environmental enhancement initiatives with long term benefit across the region,” said Johnny Strilaeff, CBT president and CEO. “Our Ecosystem Enhancement Program helps organizations and communities maintain and improve ecological health and native biodiversity in a variety of ecosystems.

“These efforts have created immediate positive impacts and are certain to be the foundation of healthy, diverse and functioning ecosystems for a long time to come.”

Kimberley’s Randy Moody, president of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEFC) has spent nearly two decades working to preserve and protect the endangered tree species in the Purcell and Rocky mountains.

READ MORE: Kimberley’s Randy Moody on the challenges and triumphs of the endangered whitebark pine

The WPEFC does work such as collecting thousands of cones to extract seeds and planting 62,000 seedlings that will benefit 150 hectares, while also removing competition away from healthy whitebark pine stands.

This five-year project, which is a collaboration with Ktunaxa Nation-owned Nupqu Native Plants, will receive $495,815 from CBT.

“Whitebark pine is a keystone species and its recovery will have benefits beyond the tree itself, including enhancing an important wildlife food source and restoring wildfire areas, which may help with plant community pioneering and soil stabilization,” Moody said.

“This project will also build partnerships to ensure that others have the tools to restore this ecosystem into the future.”

A grant of $750,000 is to be provided to the Nature Conservancy of Canada for their project entitled Ecosystem Restoration of Conservation Properties in the Rocky Mountain Trench. This will see the restoration of 10 hectares of wetland and upland habitat along Marion Creek on the west side of Columbia Lake, over a five-year period.

The project’s goal is twofold, with the second half aimed at restoring 280 hectares of grasslands and open forests using forest-thinning techniques. The project will collaborate with the BC Wildfire Service to do prescribed burns on the landscape to help maintain these fire-adapted ecosystems.

READ MORE: Funding partnership provides $2.5 million in wildfire mitigation for Kootenay communities

“Grasslands and open forests are among the most imperiled ecosystems in BC, supporting almost one third of the province’s species at risk,” said Richard Klafki, Program Director, Canadian Rocky Mountains Program.

“Using stewardship and restoration techniques, we can reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfire, help protect local communities and restore habitat for species at risk.

“We will also improve the ecosystem integrity and resilience of the wetlands along Marion Creek, making it a welcoming environment for waterfowl, shorebirds, amphibians and other wildlife to thrive.”

There also several smaller-scale ecosystem grants, including $83,000 to the Golden and District Rod and Gun Club’s Kicking Horse Canyon Bighorn Sheep Habitat Enhancement Project. This will improve 12 hectares of bighorn sheep winter range habitat quality and connectivity by restoring habitat ingrown with conifers.

The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, based in Nelson and the area around the west arm of Kootenay Lake, will get $45,247 for the Kootenay Riparian Invasive Plant Control project. This will include the inventory and treatment of aquatic invasive species in the Kootenay River drainage, while providing a training opportunity for a local resident.

The Slocan Lake Stewardship Society out of Lemon Creek will receive $120,000 to restore riparian habitat along Lemon Creek.

For more information on the full list of grants, visit


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About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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