The elk is considered a species of interest in the Columbia Basin.

The elk is considered a species of interest in the Columbia Basin.

Plan aims to protect species of interest

The East Kootenay Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program
is seeking input on a draft watershed plan

Have a say in an environmental plan that aims to restore species of interest in the upper Kootenay River.

Working with the East Kootenay Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program, Columbia Basin Trust has just released the draft Watershed Action Plan. The 88-page document will guide fish and wildlife projects delivered through the program.

“When final, we hope that stakeholders and community groups will apply for funding and help deliver some of the projects recommended in the final plan,” said Dave White, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Columbia board member, representing the East Kootenay.

Released on Thursday, May 22, Columbia Basin Trust is asking for input on the draft plan until June 12.

The plan includes four stand-alone ecosystem plans for lakes, streams, wetland, and upland and dryland. In each ecosystem, the plan focuses on critical habitats for species of interest.

The goal of the watershed plan is to conserve productivity and diversity of ecosystems in the program area, restore and enhance habitats and species of interest populations, and contribute to the maintenance or improvement of opportunities for sustainable use, including harvesting.

The plan is the first step in implementing the East Kootenay Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program, jointly announced in spring 2013 by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and Columbia Basin Trust.

The program is in response to long-standing public requests to address fish and wildlife issues in the Upper Kootenay River area – including the Koocanusa Reservoir -from Canal Flats in the north to the border, and east to the Elk Valley.

“The Watershed Action Plan will help determine the projects and research that receive funding from the East Kootenay Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “I encourage everyone with an interest in protecting and supporting our local fish and wildlife to review the draft plan and participate in the consultations.”

Anyone interested in local fish and wildlife is encouraged to review the draft plan on Columbia Basin Trust’s website at www.cbt.org/ekkfwp and provide comments in a variety of ways.

• Submit written comments to ekkfwp@vastresouces.com;

• Attend a free open house/presentation in Cranbrook on Tuesday, June 3 at the Cranbrook Public Library’s Manual Training School from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with a presentation about the plan at 3:30 p.m.;

• Participate in an online discussion from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. on June 3; you must pre-register at www.cbt.org/ekkfwp by June 2 to join the evening presentation online.