Fund supports water, wildlife and wetlands in Columbia Valley
By Nicole Trigg
Kootenay Conservation Program
Eight important local conservation projects were recently approved by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) to receive funding from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF) in 2021.
These projects will benefit Columbia Valley communities and local environment in a myriad of ways, and two of the projects were granted a new multi-year funding model to help guarantee their success in the years to come.
“I really appreciate the work of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund ‘s Technical Review Committee (TRC) when it comes to reviewing and ranking the applications,” said RDEK Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok. “In particular, I am very pleased that this year we, the RDEK Columbia Valley directors, worked together with the TRC to update the terms of reference and included the addition of a multi- year funding option. Multi-year funding will provide critical ongoing projects with funding security while reducing the workload for the organizations that manage them, and still maintaining accountability. This is particularly important for those organizations that depend primarily on volunteers to complete their important work.”
A local government service with dedicated funds for conservation, the CVLCF will be continuing to support the water monitoring and stewardship work done by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and Columbia Lake Stewardship Society, which will be working more closely together starting in 2021 since the two Columbia River Headwater lakes share many similar properties and face common concerns.
The CVLCF will also be continuing to support the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council’s work to decrease the infestation levels of the invasive weed Leafy Spurge, and the Farmland Advantage Stewardship Project, which is working with farmers to conserve important habitats and fragile ecosystems on their farms in the Columbia Valley.
Other projects receiving funding are the Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project through Wildsight Golden, which is working to protect the valley’s population of swallows that are in steep decline elsewhere in Canada; and the Conservation of Biodiversity in Columbia Wetlands project delivered by the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners that aims to conserve priority wetlands and the species that rely on them amid climate change impacts.
New projects for 2021 include a Windermere Creek study to assess re-routing water to an upstream wetlands to reduce extreme flooding and restore ecological value of the wetland, and enhancing important wildlife and species at risk habitat in the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Kootenay River Ranch Conservation Area near Canal Flats.
“These important projects work towards maintaining and enhancing the conservation values in this important valley,” said Juliet Craig, Program Manager for the Kootenay Conservation Program, which works in partnership with the RDEK to administer the fund. “We had excellent applications to the CVLCF again this year for projects that steward wildlife, habitat and water, and ultimately contribute to our quality of life.”
The CVLCF was established by the RDEK in 2008 by referendum. Property owners in RDEK Columbia Valley sub-region pay an annual tax of $20 per parcel towards this dedicated fund, which provides financial support to local projects that help conserve and restore the region’s prized natural surroundings.
To find out if your idea for a conservation project qualifies, or if you have any questions about the fund, contact KCP Program Manager Juliet Craig at 250-352-2260 or email [email protected]
The application intake for 2022 projects will open in August 2021 and all applications must be received on or by October 29, 2021.
Lead image: The Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project through Wildsight Golden is one of the first projects to receive multi-year funding through the CVLCF. Photo by Rachel Darvill