The Badger is one species that will benefit from the ecosystem restoration work. Although they were likely widespread up to the late 1800’s they are now endangered in B.C., with probably less than 350 living here now. Photo by R. Klafki

The Badger is one species that will benefit from the ecosystem restoration work. Although they were likely widespread up to the late 1800’s they are now endangered in B.C., with probably less than 350 living here now. Photo by R. Klafki

Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program funds East Kootenay restoration projects

Funded annually by BC Hydro, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FCWP) helps preserve and enhance fish and wildlife in watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams.

In the Columbia Region, the Board approved approximately $5.8 million for 38 fish and wildlife projects to be implemented from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. First Nations, stewardship groups, consultants, and agencies are leading the 10 fish and 28 wildlife projects that will help conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by BC Hydro dams.

One of the projects is led by ʔaq̓am—a member community of the Ktunaxa Nation. That will involve restoring a natural ponderosa pine ecosystem.

It is estimated that about 3,000 hectares of grassland and open forest are converted to closed forest annually as a result of encroachment and ingrowth within the Rocky Mountain Trench. The reduction in open forests and grasslands has led to an increased risk of catastrophic wildfire, and the loss of critical habitat for wildlife. 478,600 has been allotted for this project.

This project aims to mechanically thin and prescribe burn 1,300 hectares over a five-year period. Species anticipated to benefit from the work include the Long-billed Curlew, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Flammulated Owl, Common Nighthawk, Yellow Badger, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and Little Brown Bat.

Other projects in the East Kootenay include $39,240 for improving fish habitat in Joseph Creek.

$291,200 has been allotted, led by the British Columbia Wildlife Federation for restoring wetland habitat near Rossland, Kimberley and Creston.

The Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada will lead a project collecting baseline information before White Nose Syndrome affects Kootenay bat populations. $54,493 has been granted for this project.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will take the lead on a project to improve Big Horn Sheep habitat by addressing invasive plants on low elevation winter ranges. the grant for this is $22,000.

$27,600 has been granted, led by the Sparwood Fish and Wildlife Association to study elk migration in the Upper Kootenay River watershed.

The Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resource Society was granted %60,500 to continue their work in restoring open forest and grassland in the Rocky Mountain Trench. This project will restore 42 hectares of open forest and grassland for wildlife use.

The East Kootenay Invasive Species Council received $30,000 to protect ecological function by mitigating invasive plants.

These and other approved projects are to support the delivery of fish and wildlife projects, and do not include the FWCP administration or communications budget.

Annual and ongoing fish and wildlife projects are delivered with support from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) through a long-term agreement.