by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Wednesday March 02 2022
Conservation efforts around the water and aquatic systems of Kootenay Lake will see some support from the regional district this year.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors approved $75,000 in grant funds for the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund (KLLCF) to be spread among eight different projects.
Established in consultation with residents in electoral areas A, D and E — following a referendum in 2014 — each of the eight projects will receive 80 per cent of the money up front and the remaining 20 per cent upon receipt of the final report.
The Kootenay Lake and surrounding area has been impacted for its ecological and habitat values due to dam operations and development pressure, noted Sangita Sudan, general manager of the RDCK’s Development and Community Sustainability.
“As a result, the KLLCF funding provides grants to support Kootenay Lake area local conservation efforts to ensure the broader goals of protecting the watershed and water quality is achieved for future generations,” she wrote in her report to the board.
The overall sustainability of the Kootenay Lake watershed is enhanced by the conservation efforts, Sudan continued.
“The funding supports projects awarded to local scientist and non-profits which adds to the regional economy,” she noted.
Heading that list is a grizzly bear coexistence project ($9,000) from the Friends of the Lardeau River Society that aims to reduce real and tangible threats for recovering grizzly bear populations and Kootenay Lake residents.
“With increasing semi-rural and urban residents interested in raising local food, more people are keeping backyard chickens, sheep, pigs, beehives, and growing crops in their backyards,” noted a submission on the project.
“Livestock kills or property/crop damage perpetuates intolerance to grizzly bear presence in human settled valleys and leaves the Conservation Officer Service (COS) with limited management options.”
The project — with a total cost of $110,000 — provides a 50 per cent cost share with residents for electric fencing equipment to protect their livestock or crops from bears.
The West Kootenay EcoSociety received $8,000 for its Communities in Nature project, supporting intact ecosystems in Area E watersheds.
The project is expected to use nature-based planning to “provide information, analyses and plans to protect and restore natural ecological integrity and biological diversity in consumptive-use watersheds in RDCK Area E in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss.
“This goal will be achieved by identifying suggested protected networks of ecological reserves at multiple spatial scales, based on assessments of hydrological risk and ecosystem sensitivity,” noted the proposal on the project.
The outcome of this $179,000 project will be scientifically-defensible maps that present and describe the most important areas within each watershed.
The Wildlife Conservation Society Canada will be getting $13,000 for its bat roost habitat enhancement in the Kootenay Lake area. The project’s total cost is $94,110.25.
The Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society received $13,000 for its Harrop wetland enhancement project (total project $84,000) to create one central groundwater-sustained perennial marsh that retains water year-round.
The Valhalla Wilderness Society was able to secure money ($4,000) for its Fish and Bear lakes western toad mortality mitigation implementation along Highway 31A, while the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society was able to garner $9,000 for its community monitoring and removal of aquatic invasive species along the Kootenay Lake shoreline.
Living Lakes Canada will be staging Kootenay Watershed Science ($7,500), determining the impact of changing climate on small- and medium-sized watersheds.
Also on the list was a habitat restoration project for beavers along the Duncan Lardeau River floodplains ($11,500) by the B.C. Conservation Foundation.
Now in its eighth year, the fund provides grants to support Kootenay Lake area conservation efforts in electoral areas A, D and E, with a focus on the conservation of wildlife, habitat, water and aquatic systems.