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Posted: June 20, 2020

Landscapes, water and wildlife supported by local fund

By Nicole Trigg

Kootenay Conservation Program

Eight important 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 2020.

These projects will benefit the Columbia Valley region by removing destructive invasive species from local ecosystems, helping protect lake water quality, lending a helping hand to local at-risk wildlife species, improving wildlife habitat, supporting farmers who are protecting natural ecosystems on their lands, and reducing wildfire risk on the landscape. A local government service with dedicated funds for conservation, the CVLCF distributes funding to successful projects that are approved by the Columbia Valley’s RDEK Directors each year.

Gerry Wilkie

“Residents in the Columbia Valley understand the importance of conservation and that by sustaining a healthy biophysical environment, our rural way of life is enhanced,” said Gerry Wilkie, Electoral Area G Director. “Over the years, their support of the CVLCF has maintained biodiversity, conserved critical wildlife habitat and established effective aquatic stewardship programs in the valley. The quality and scientific value of the projects that these organizations are doing will benefit our valley environment and our quality of life well into the future.”

For 2020, the CVLCF is continuing to support the Columbia Valley Farmland Advantage Stewardship Project, which is working with local farmers and ranchers to steward important habitats on their farms.

The CVLCF is also continuing to support the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council in their on-the-ground work in the Upper Columbia Valley decreasing the infestation levels of Leafy Spurge, considered among the most unwanted invasive plants in B.C.

The water monitoring and water stewardship educations programs of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society are also continuing to receive financial support from the fund.

Wildlife species being helped through the CVLCF include the endangered Northern Leopard Frog, which is being re-introduced to the Columbia Wetlands as part of an effort led by the Calgary Zoo to bolster their numbers, and swallows, which are the focus of a new project that will put up nesting structures for this federally threatened species and involve residents in monitoring local populations.

Another new project to receive CVLCF support is one led by the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners that aims to map biodiversity hotspots in the vast Columbia Wetlands and inform future efforts to conserve these critically important wetlands and the species that rely on them.

Funding is also going toward grasslands restoration work on the Luxor Linkage Conservation Area north of Edgewater to reduce wildlfire risk and improve wildlife habitat.

“We continue to be impressed by the number of organizations that are working towards the conservation values in this valley,” said Juliet Craig, Program Manager for the Kootenay Conservation Program, which works in partnership with the RDEK to administer the fund. “We received more applications than funding dollars again this year. The CVLCF helps organizations steward the healthy functioning ecosystems of the Columbia Valley, and ultimately contributes to the region’s quality of life.”

The CVLCF was established by the RDEK in 2008 by referendum. Property owners in RDCK 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 1-844-775-2722 or email [email protected].

The application intake for 2021 projects will open in August 2020 and all applications must be received on or by October 30, 2020.

For more information on the CVLCF.

Lead image: Lake Windermere Ambassadors testing water from Lake Windermere. Kootenay Conservation Program photo

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