Legend

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. Projects were approved for funding. Read the announcements here and here.

Elk Valley

Photo Credit: Graham Osbourne

This sub-region was the focus during the third year of the program. One project was approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

Southern Rocky Mountain Trench

Photo Credit: Lyle Grisdale

This sub-region was the focus of the first year of the program. Three projects were approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

Columbia Valley

This sub-region was the focus during the second year of the program. Two projects were approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

Kootenay Lake

This sub-region was the focus of the first year of the program. Three projects were approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

North Columbia

This sub-region was the focus during the fourth year of the program. Projects were approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

Arrow/Slocan

This sub-region was the focus during the second year of the program. Three projects were approved for funding. Read the announcement here.

Lower Columbia

This sub-region was the focus during the third year of the program. Three projects were approved for funding. Read the announcements here and here.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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 - Upper Columbia Increasing Bat Populations Through Wetland Restoration - North Columbia Giving Whitebark Pine a Growing Chance - Upper Columbia Giving Whitebark Pine a Growing Chance - North Columbia Pollination Pathways to Support Critical Ecosystems Kicking Horse Canyon Ungulate Winter Range Project Upper Columbia Tributary Habitat Restoration Lower Columbia Kootenay Lake Arrow/Slocan Southern Rocky Mountain Trench Elk Valley Columbia Valley North Columbia Upper Columbia