Ecosystem Enhancement Program

The Ecosystem Enhancement Program will have a meaningful and measurable impact in supporting and strengthening ecosystem health in the Basin. The Program goal is to help maintain and improve ecological health and native biodiversity in a variety of ecosystems, such as wetlands, fish habitat, forests and grasslands.

This year is a Basin-wide call for eligible project ideas that restore and/or enhance a variety of ecotypes, including terrestrial, aquatic and wetlands. The Trust will identify projects focused on enhancement and restoration by seeking input from community groups, First Nations representatives and government experts, and existing regional plans and research.

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Subregions Map


Click on the map to read more on each subregion (e.g. ecological priorites and emerging issues)

  •  Upper Columbia
  •  Elk Valley
  •  Southern Rocky Mountain Trench
  •  Columbia Valley
  •  Kootenay Lake
  •  North Columbia
  •  Arrow/Slocan
  •  Lower Columbia
  •  All Subregions - Click on the point in each sub-region to learn more about projects supported.

Upper Columbia

This sub-region was the focus during the fourth year of the program.

Elk Valley

Photo Credit: Graham Osbourne

This sub-region was the focus during the third year of the program.

Southern Rocky Mountain Trench

Photo Credit: Lyle Grisdale

This sub-region was the focus of the first year of the program.

Columbia Valley

This sub-region was the focus during the second year of the program.

Kootenay Lake

This sub-region was the focus of the first year of the program.

North Columbia

This sub-region was the focus during the fourth year of the program.


This sub-region was the focus during the second year of the program.

Lower Columbia

This sub-region was the focus during the third year of the program.

A broad plan focuses on the foothills of the Steeples mountain range

Places like Tamarack Lake, Little Shoe, Horseshoe and Big Hill lie at the base of the Steeples mountain ridge in the East Kootenay, in Peckham’s Range Unit. Here, the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society is undertaking a five-year project on Crown land to improve habitat on 60 hectares of forest, 7,000 square metres of wetland ecosystems and 163 hectares of grasslands. Activities include grass seeding, manual thinning of the forest and managing invasive plants.

“The plan will result in tangible benefits for wildlife through restoration of grassland, wetland and forest ecosystems,” said Marc Trudeau, Coordinator/Project Manager. “It will enhance forested wintering habitat for bighorn sheep; grasslands to the benefit of elk, deer and livestock; and overall ecosystem health and function around the wetland.”

High-quality habitat for rainbow trout

Woody debris will be placed in the water, while live trees and shrubs will be planted along the bank, all to benefit juvenile rainbow trout by enhancing its rearing habitat. These are some of the activities being undertaken by the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative on a side channel of the Slocan River near Lemon Creek. In turn, these actions will support the fish’s population in the Slocan River.

“Mimicking what nature does and allowing nature to continue doing what it does is central to the project,” said Stephan Martineau, Manager. “For example, introducing large woody debris reduces floodwater velocity and energy and provides valuable rearing habitats for juvenile rainbow trout. Planting trees and shrubs will stabilize the banks, increase shade and lower water temperature, promoting aquatic life sustainability while providing additional habitat for birds and terrestrial wildlife.”

Bighorn sheep and others get better room to roam

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, white‐tailed deer, mule deer and American badger—all these species and many more rely on the habitat contained in the Bull River Grassland Corridor and surrounding conservation land complex, located in the East Kootenay. To enhance this important Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC) Conservation Area and wildlife corridor, NTBC is undertaking a five-year project to restore 28 hectares of dry open forest and grasslands. Activities include thinning the forest, creating wildlife trees and controlling invasive plants.

“Forest thinning will seek to mimic historic, fire-maintained conditions, increasing the quantity and quality of the forage available for ungulates and improving sightlines to support free movement and avoidance of predators,” said Michelle Daniel, Senior Field Operations Coordinator. “It will also restore areas of native plant diversity and habitat for a variety of wildlife that depend on dry, open forests.”

Natural processes to return to Bummers Flats

In the 1970s, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) enhanced Bummers Flats near Fort Steele to stabilize water levels to improve waterfowl breeding habitat. Alongside partners like ʔaq̓am, The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC) and the Province of BC, the organization is now taking a further step by re-activating the natural flooding of the Kootenay River within the Bummers Flats Conservation Area Complex, managed by DUC, NTBC and the Province. Activities include removing dikes and ditches and re-establishing natural inlets and outlets to the river. The five-year project will positively impact ecosystems along the river, improving habitat for species like the Columbia spotted frog and the at-risk northern leopard frog.

“The project vision is to return Bummers Flats to a naturalized, self‐sustaining ecosystem, driven by natural flood pulses and processes,” said Matthew Wilson, Head of Conservation Programs. “Dynamic processes will create a mosaic of wetland habitats with varying characteristics, enhancing the landscapes for many native species, including plants, invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals.”

Horseshoe Lake North Wetland Restoration  

Over five years, restore five hectares of the northern portion of Horseshoe Lake to develop a healthy, functional wetland. The project will create habitat for at-risk and culturally important western painted turtle and improve wetland quality by restoring the function of the aquatic, riparian and upland plant communities.  

“We hold a covenant with the Creator to be the caretakers and stewards of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it lands,” said Nasuʔkin (Chief) Heidi Gravelle. “With that we have an obligation to restore, protect and be the voices of our lands. To achieve this, we are guided by our “ʔa·knumuȼtiⱡiⱡ” (natural law), given to the Kootenai Peoples by our Creator. It is a powerful word and speaks to why we were put here on this land. In return, our lands provide us with an ecosystem where our waters, plants and animals work together to provide us with the sustenance to maintain our ways of life since time immemorial. For there to be complete reconciliation with the land, there needs to be healing, and there is work to be done. For this to happen the people of this land (in this instance ʔakanuxunik̓) need to be involved at every level. We look forward to all the projects coming to fruition.” 

Southern Columbia Whitebark Pine Recovery  

Over five years, restore 150 hectares of whitebark and limber pine ecosystems to provide connectivity between heavily impacted and healthy populations by planting 62,000 seedlings and removing competition to restore naturally regenerating populations, plus create a training opportunity for a Basin resident. 

“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,” said Randy Moody, President, Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada. “This project will also build partnerships to ensure that others have the tools to restore this ecosystem into the future.”

Ecosystem Restoration of Conservation Properties in the Rocky Mountain Trench  

Over five years, restore 10 hectares of wetland and upland habitat along Marion Creek, on the west side of Columbia Lake, by restoring surface drainage patterns and reconnecting the channel to its floodplain; also restore 280 hectares of grasslands and open forests using forest thinning techniques to improve wildlife habitat, minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire and help protect local communities; also implement a prescribed burn. This will benefit species like American badger, Lewis’s Woodpecker, elk and westslope cutthroat trout.  

“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.”

Climate Change Mitigation in the Columbia Wetlands

Over five years, restore critical ecosystem functions on at least 75 hectares within the Columbia Wetlands; this includes restoring wetlands along the western side of the valley, and adding and improving beaver dams in additional wetlands to maintain seasonal water levels. The project will benefit many at-risk birds, waterfowl and plants, and create a training opportunity for a Basin resident. 

“The desired outcomes of the project include more open-water habitat over winter and spring in the Columbia Wetlands and sufficient water to maintain wetlands in the benchlands,” said Suzanne Bayley, President. “Our overarching goal is to restore critical ecosystem functions in wetlands to allow for adaptation and build resilience to climate change, thereby conserving species at risk dependent on these wetlands.”

New Yaqan NuɁkiy – Building on Restoration Efforts

Yaqan NuɁkiy has previous experience restoring wetlands, streams and floodplains, and will now use its expertise to restore 517 hectares of aquatic and terrestrial habitat along the Kootenay and Goat rivers during a two-year project. Using 1926 aerial photographs as a guide, it will help the area more resemble its natural state through activities like filling ditches, adding culverts and controlling non-native plants. This will benefit species like northern leopard frog, white sturgeon and western painted turtle. “This project will build on wetland and stream restoration project work that we began in 2018,” said Norman Allard Jr., Community Planner.

“In 2021, the Creston Valley experienced a severe drought where all wetlands, ponds and streams dried—except for the ones we had restored, which contained lush growths of native plants and supported large numbers of birds and other animals. This proved that the techniques we used were successful, and we’ll now use them on the current project.”

Elk Valley Cottonwood Restoration – The Wide-reaching Benefits of Cottonwood

A healthy cottonwood forest, and the streams within it, benefit a range of British Columbian species, including grizzly bears, blue herons, rubber boas and westslope cutthroat trout. The Elk River Watershed Alliance is undertaking a four-year project on 47 hectares along the Elk River to plant around 20,000 cottonwood live stakes and 8,000 native understory seedlings. It will also install animal-exclusion fencing to keep out animals like elk and cattle and allow young vegetation to grow. 

“The goal is to improve the value of cottonwood habitat, connect floodplain cottonwood ecosystems and mitigate floods in the Elk Valley,” said Chad Hughes, Executive Director. “The project also aims to indirectly improve the functioning of aquatic ecosystems by creating shade to reduce stream temperature, reducing erosion and naturally introducing large woody debris to provide habitat for fish and aquatic wildlife, plus food and building materials for beavers.”

Canoe Valley – Zeroing in on Wetlands

Wetlands in the Canoe Valley, near Valemount, are the target of a project of Simpcw First Nation. Over five years, the project will restore existing wetlands or construct new ones. For example, it will transform a sedge meadow into a functional shallow-water wetland that will benefit species like the at-risk western toad, plus provide a new stepping-stone habitat that links to Valemount Peatland, the largest wetland complex at the northern end of the reservoir.

“Valley-bottom wetland and riparian areas serve numerous important ecological functions, including providing habitat for many fish and wildlife species, and targeted physical works can help restore these critical habitats and connectivity corridors,” said Caroline Feischl, Environmental Professional with Simpcw Resources Group, which is overseeing the project on behalf of Simpcw First Nation, in collaboration with LGL Limited. “This project will also engage members of the Simpcw First Nation, plus incorporate cultural and ecological knowledge, particularly by focusing on adding and locating plant species of cultural significance.”

Lake Ranch Enhancement Project – Restoring to a Natural State

The British Columbia Conservation Foundation (BCCF) will enhance the Lake Ranch (Von Unruh) Conservation Property, owned by The Nature Trust of BC. Over the next five years, BCCF will undertake several steps on about 51 hectares of the Lardeau Valley property, including planting trees, shrubs and flower meadows and adding wood structures for small animals and insects. 

“The condition of the property will be more structurally and biologically diverse than at present, contributing more to the surrounding landscape, in terms of habitat health and function, from its pivotal valley-bottom position,” said Ashley Ekelund, Regional Coordinator, BCCF. “It will be on its way to supporting significant patches of deciduous and coniferous forest, which will add tremendously to the property’s ability to support amphibians, songbirds, small mammals, insects and larger mammals.”

Nurturing a Stream to Benefit a Watershed and Community

The many tributaries of the Columbia River support important aquatic, terrestrial and cultural resources for Secwépemc citizens. Kenpésq̓t (also known as the Shuswap Indian Band) is nurturing around 5,000 hectares of this system by restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitat and connectivity on a select watershed located between Spillimacheen and Golden. With the assistance of partners like the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners, Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club, Nature Conservancy Canada and Nature Trust of BC, the five-year Columbia Headwaters Aquatic Restoration Secwépemc Strategy is using a variety of techniques, including planting riparian vegetation, restoring beds and banks, and improving upslope areas so less sediment travels downstream. This will benefit species like bull trout, burbot, western toads and painted turtles. The project will also incorporate the use and sharing of traditional ecological knowledge from local Indigenous and long-time residents to support restoration and monitoring of the ecosystem.

Improving Overwinter Habitat for Elk

Too much snow and not enough food to graze on: that’s what a five-year project in the upper Kicking Horse Canyon is addressing so Rocky Mountain elk can better use this location in the winter. The Golden District Rod and Gun Club—along with participation from Ktunaxa Nation Council Guardians and ʔakisq̓nuk enterprise Seven Feathers Contracting & Consulting—is enhancing 112 hectares of south-facing slopes near Vacation Creek, between Golden and Yoho National Park. By thinning and pruning immature trees, the remaining trees will grow faster and eventually create an overhead crown that will intercept snow. Reduced tree density will also promote the growth of grasses and shrubs that the elk can feed on.

Increasing Bat Populations Through Wetland Restoration

Bats are bioindicators, and an important species for monitoring water quality and overall health of forest and wetland ecosystems. Their numbers can also measure ecosystems restoration and improvement. This five-year project will restore natural bat roosting habitat within a five-hectare area to build resiliency in local populations. Enhancement work will be integrated into wetland restoration projects in the North and Upper Columbia sub-regions; areas being evaluated include Meadow Creek, Duncan, Beaton and Parson. The initiative will be led by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and supported by regional partners.

“In many parts of the Columbia Basin, standing water provides excellent foraging and drinking habitat for an estimated 12 species of bats. But many species depend on low elevation mature or old growth trees to raise a pup in each summer and this roosting habitat is limiting,” said Dr. Cori Lausen, Conservation Research Biologist with Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. “Over the next five years we will work with multiple partners to install and monitor structures that will enhance roosting habitat for bats in strategic areas of the North and Upper Columbia sub-regions.”

Pollination Pathways to Support Critical Ecosystems

Many native bees and all moths and butterflies need native plants to complete their life cycles. Most plants need native pollinators to produce seed and fruit. The Pollination Pathway Climate Adaptation Initiative will enhance plant-pollinator networks in the Lower Columbia sub-region by working toward restoration of the pollination systems within these diverse native plant communities. The five-year project will increase abundance and connectivity of important native wildflowers through seed collection, growing and plantings, and enhance habitat for native insect pollinators through the preservation of nest sites and the provision of host plants for specialist bees, butterflies and moths. This project will enhance over 250 hectares of riparian camas meadow ecosystems and over 400 hectares of upland showy milkweed meadow ecosystems at seven sites.

“The pollination of flowering plants by animals is a critical ecosystem service. The decline of pollinators has many causes, including the decline of our natural areas and thriving native plant populations,” said Valerie Huff, Restoration Botanist with the Kootenay Native Plant Society. “Camas and milkweed are anchor plants for pollinators in the region’s ecosystem, but there are many other plants included in the Pollination Pathway initiative that will support many species of endangered and at-risk pollinators.”

Giving Whitebark Pine a Growing Chance

Whitebark pine is an endangered high-elevation species that moderates snowmelt, stabilizes soil and seeds provide an important food source for red squirrels, grizzly bears, and the Clark’s nutcracker.

White pine blister rust (an introduced fungus), mountain pine beetle, wildfire risks, and a changing climate are all threatening these keystone tree species. This project, led by the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada, will restore and enhance 300 hectares of habitat in the North and Upper Columbia sub-regions of the Basin. The project will increase the amount of trees with resistance to white pine blister rust and minimize losses of trees and genetic diversity to mountain pine beetle.

“Whitebark pine recovery requires active management to overcome most of the threats it is facing, given its vast range and preferred habitat on mountain tops, this is a monumental task. This five-year project is the largest and most ambitious recovery project to-date outside of the National Parks,” said Randy Moody, President of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada. “We will restore 300 hectares, plant 100,000 seedlings, and collaborate with many other stakeholders in advancing the recovery of this critical species.”

Banking on Swallows in the Upper Columbia

Bank and barn swallows are an at-risk species facing a sharp population decline. The Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project is a five‐year project led by Wildsight Golden that will conserve and enhance eight hectares of breeding and nesting habitat of both species at various locations in the area. The initiative will also track migratory routes and wintering ground locations to better understand the opportunity for collaboration with other regional and international partners to support habitat connectivity and protection for both species.

“The Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project is offering citizen science opportunities in terms of monitoring swallow nest sites in the Columbia Valley,” said Rachel Darvill, Program Biologist on Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project with Wildsight Golden. “Through this type of intimate involvement I think that this project has already, and will continue to, build upon the knowledge of swallow identification but also grow people’s understanding of nature leading to a deeper conservation ethic.”

Elk Conservation Area Gets a Boost

Opening forest canopy and promoting vegetation growth are both vital steps in enhancing 296 hectares of forest, grassland and wetland ecosystems at the Big Ranch Conservation Property Complex for Rocky mountain elk and other species. Big Ranch is owned by The Nature Trust of BC and is located between Elkford and Sparwood. The five-year project, led by the Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife Association, involves activities such as removing trees to allow light to reach the understory, fertilizing grasses and treating invasive weeds. Other steps include creating wildlife trees, repairing a wetland complex and planting trees in some areas to create visual buffers between humans and wildlife.

“Land-use changes and a fragmented landscape have harmed critical habitat required to support thriving wildlife populations in the Elk Valley,” said Matt Huryn, President of the Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife Association. “This project will help reverse the impacts as the property returns to its natural state as a forest-grassland corridor, increasing winter range and restoring grassland ecosystems for the benefit of elk and species-at-risk.”

Stream Improvements Aid Fish Habitat

Placed just right, a boulder can redirect flow away from an eroding bank and create features like pools, riffles and scours that improve habitat for threatened aquatic species. The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society is planning improvements like this over three years to enhance a critical ecosystem in the Salmo River, just north of the town of Salmo. Other activities will include restoring approximately 245 metres of a former side channel, protecting old-growth cedar trees and encouraging the growth of native plants like cottonwood.

“Human activities have left a simplified ecosystem, while bank erosion threatens key habitat features, degrades water quality and widens the channel, which raises water temperature,” said Gerry Nellestijn, Coordinator with the Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society. “We look forward to proceeding with this project to address both erosion and simplified habitat. This will help us obtain our long-term vision of restoring the Salmo River watershed and increasing aquatic biodiversity.

Broad Measures Target Rare Species and Ecosystems

Thinning conifers will help improve habitat for birds and reptiles like Lewis’s woodpeckers, common nighthawks and northern rubber boas. Planting and armouring mature cottonwood trees will help protect valuable forests from human and beaver damage. These are just a couple of the ways a five-year project is improving habitat for eight at-risk species within rare, sensitive and threatened ecosystems between South Slocan and the Pend d’Oreille River. The project is a collaboration between the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Trail Wildlife Association and provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“By increasing the productivity and resilience of these threatened ecosystems, the project aims to improve habitat availability and connectivity for wildlife across the region, especially for at-risk species,” said Yvonne Patterson, Wildlife Biologist, Okanagan Nation Alliance. “Together with key partners, we will work to build awareness and support for ecosystem stewardship, plus collaborate with others in the community on actions that will benefit sensitive ecosystems and wildlife in the future.”

Targeting Dry Slopes, With Benefits Now and in the Future

South-facing slopes in the Winlaw Creek and Trozzo Creek watersheds are home to dry, forest habitat that is rare in the West Kootenay. By introducing controlled burns, the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo) will improve over 870 hectares of habitat for animals that rely on these areas, from elk and cougar to alligator lizards. The three-year project also involves enhancing rainbow and bull trout habitat on the lower reaches of Winlaw Creek.

“The dry slopes are a rare habitat type in the Slocan Valley and are part of a regionally significant habitat corridor,” said Stephan Martineau, Manager, SIFCo. “This work will improve general ecosystem health and resiliency. It will also provide a source of dry-site plant and animal species that can move into transitioning ecosystems, since dry areas are expected to expand as climate change progresses.”

Collaborating to Restore a Watershed

At-risk species like westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and burbot live in Shuswap Creek. Over four years, the Shuswap Indian Band will restore and enhance over five kilometres of this 18-km creek. A key aspect will be to collaborate with community members, local landowners and local and provincial organizations while using a scientific and effective approach to restoring watersheds.

“We will transfer knowledge while employing First Nations members and community residents, and will know the project has been successful when we see positive trends in aquatic communities and populations,” said Mark Thomas, Councillor, Shuswap Indian Band. “Our commitment is to the long-term sustainability of the resources and people of the Columbia Valley.”

“The plan for treatment is to create a mosaic of habitat types that will primarily follow the historic stand structure of an open forest,” said Andrew Malucelli, Natural Resource Manager, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation. “It will enhance the health and vigour of the ecosystem, especially critical winter range for ungulates like deer and elk.”

Restoring the Forest to Expand the Possibilities

The ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation will restore and enhance 115 hectares of land over two years, which will connect to over 300 hectares it has already treated. The project will involve employing and engaging with community members and others to thin dense stands of small-diameter Douglas fir. This will restore critical habitat for species like the at-risk American badger and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, help lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires and reduce weed infestations.

“The plan for treatment is to create a mosaic of habitat types that will primarily follow the historic stand structure of an open forest,” said Andrew Malucelli, Natural Resource Manager, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation. “It will enhance the health and vigour of the ecosystem, especially critical winter range for ungulates like deer and elk.”

Enhancing Wetlands and the Habitats They Provide

The Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor, which runs from Summit Lake to Slocan Lake, is host to the highest concentration of wetlands in the Slocan Lake watershed and supports a wide range of species and habitats, including several identified Species at Risk. Over the next three years, the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society (SLSS) will restore and enhance three key stretches of marshes, fens and swamps along Bonanza Creek to improve water connectivity and the overall health of sensitive aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

“The wetlands targeted in this project are vitally important to the corridor,” said Wendy King, Director, SLSS. “These enhancements will be specifically designed to improve the overall hydrology, thereby providing long-term ecological benefits to Bonanza Creek, its tributaries and its wetlands.”

Creating More and Better Habitat for ki?lawna? (Grizzlies)

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), in partnership with the Penticton Indian Band, will be undertaking a four-year project to enhance ki?lawna? (grizzly bear) habitat on approximately 400 hectares west of Arrow Lakes Reservoir. ONA biologists and technical staff will work along side Sylix communities to support a collaboration between First Nations, local industry, provincial representatives and grizzly bear and wildfire experts that will enhance key ki?lawna? habitat through innovative and improved forestry practices through activities like prescribed burns, brushing and selective harvesting. They’ll also explore managing roads that access sensitive areas, where possible.

“The goal of this project is to increase the availability of important habitat and enhance the value of capable but currently unsuitable habitat,” said Cailyn Glasser, Wildlife Biologist, ONA.

Bringing Back the Benefits of Fire—Without the Risks

After a century of fire suppression, the many forests in the East Kootenay are thick with dense stands of timber that compromise values for many species, and provide the potential for catastrophic wildfires. To return the stands to healthier, more natural conditions, the ʔaq̓am project will involve thinning forests and using prescribed burns on 1,300 hectares on ʔaq̓am reserve lands over the course of five years.

“This project will benefit elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer by directly improving ungulate range, as well as providing improved preferred habitat for multiple species at risk,” said Julie Couse, ʔaq̓am Director of Lands and Natural Resources. “The citizens of ʔaq̓am and area residents will also benefit from wildfire mitigation through the thinning of susceptible, volatile forests and the removal of ground fuels.”

A Grand Scale Wetland Restoration

Near Creston, Six Mile Slough provides habitat for waterfowl, amphibians and more. Its ecological value has been greatly reduced because of modifications to the wetland since the late 1800’s for agricultural and wildlife management purposes. This project by the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area will see the modification structures removed, over 1,260 hectares restored to a more natural state and the slough reconnected to the Kootenay River.

“Improved flow of water, nutrients and other processes within the wetland and between the wetland and the Kootenay River will provide improved habitat for fish and wildlife,” said Marc-Andre Beaucher, Head of Conservation Programs, noting at-risk species like white sturgeon, burbot and northern leopard frogs will benefit. “This project will attempt to address sub-optimal water fluctuations, limit aggressive cattails encroaching upon the wetland, and return the area to a more natural hydrology that will benefit a wide range of species.”

Defeating the Deadly Rust

At home in the subalpine, whitebark pine is a long-lived tree species—except when its survival is being threatened by white pine blister rust. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ktunaxa Nation are working together to help restore this endangered species that plays an important role in mountain ecosystems. Primary activities involve collecting seeds from uninfected trees, growing seedlings in greenhouses and planting them in the South Selkirk Mountains overlooking Kootenay Lake.

“This project will improve the long-term health of our subalpine ecosystems by increasing the likelihood that whitebark pine will survive on the landscape,” said Adrian Leslie, West Kootenay Project Manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “There will be increased numbers of healthy trees able to defend themselves from white pine blister rust, which will in turn support the dozens of wildlife species that rely on the large, nutritious seeds for their survival.”

Restoring Culturally Important Habitat

At the confluence of the Goat and Kootenay rivers near Creston, over 500 hectares of land make up part of the yaqan nukiy traditional hunting grounds. But this landscape isn’t as healthy and diverse as it used to be. Using aerial photographs from 1929 and the knowledge of Elders, the Lower Kootenay Band will be revitalizing wetland, stream and riparian habitats in this culturally and ecologically important area.

“This is a unique opportunity to restore an altered landscape to its former condition,” said Chief Jason Louie. “Major improvements will enhance the habitat for a diversity of fish and wildlife species, from white sturgeon to little brown bats. Culturally important plants including wapato, cattail, sedges and rushes will be returned to yaqan nukiy lands. It’s also a great opportunity to involve the students and staff of the Yaqan Nukiy School and all Lower Kootenay Band members in the project.”

Protecting Rare Grasslands

“It’s a really special place in the entire Rocky Mountain Trench.” That’s how Richard Klafki of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) describes the grasslands in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex. Located between Kimberley and Cranbrook, the area is home to true grasslands, which are rare in the Basin. Historical activities on the landscape have led to less than optimal conditions for species in the area, ranging from elk, deer and badger to rare plant species. Through a partnership between NCC, the Nature Trust of British Columbia and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the over 1,100 hectare area will be restored and enhanced to a more natural state. This will be done through activities like thinning the overgrown forests, riparian and wetland restoration, stream enhancement and removing invasive plants.

Restoring the Forest to Expand the Possibilities Collaborating to Restore a Watershed Targeting Dry Slopes, With Benefits Now and in the Future Enhancing Wetlands and the Habitats They Provide Creating More and Better Habitat for ki?lawna? (Grizzlies) Bringing Back the Benefits of Fire—Without the Risks A Grand Scale Wetland Restoration Defeating the Deadly Rust Restoring Culturally Important Habitat Protecting Rare Grasslands Broad Measures Target Rare Species and Ecosystems Stream Improvements Aid Fish Habitat Elk Conservation Area Gets a Boost Banking on Swallows in the Upper Columbia Increasing Bat Populations Through Wetland Restoration - North Columbia Giving Whitebark Pine a Growing Chance - Upper Columbia Pollination Pathways to Support Critical Ecosystems Kicking Horse Canyon Ungulate Winter Range Project Upper Columbia Tributary Habitat Restoration Lake Ranch Enhancement Project – Restoring to a Natural State Canoe Valley - Zeroing in on Wetlands Elk Valley Cottonwood Restoration - The Wide-reaching Benefits of Cottonwood New Yaqan Nukiy - Building on Restoration Efforts Climate Change Mitigation Columbia in Wetlands   Ecosystem Restoration of Conservation Properties in the Rocky Mountain Trench  Southern Columbia Whitebark Pine Recovery Horseshoe Lake North Wetland Restoration Natural processes to return to Bummers Flats Bighorn sheep and others get better room to roam High-quality habitat for rainbow trout A broad plan focuses on the foothills of the Steeples mountain range Lower Columbia Kootenay Lake Arrow/Slocan Southern Rocky Mountain Trench Elk Valley Columbia Valley North Columbia Upper Columbia