Conservation fuelled by $1 million HCTF grants

A $1 million cash injection will help boost conservation projects for fish and wildlife projects in the Kootenays.

A $1 million cash injection will help boost conservation projects for fish and wildlife projects in the Kootenays. At the BC Wildlife Federation Convention in Fernie during late April, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) announced it would be providing financial support for 16 conservation projects throughout the region.

“One of our challenges is that we fund over 200 project a year, or in that neighbourhood and they can be moving targets because of vagaries of delivering a project in the field,” said Brian Springinotic, HCTF CEO.

The East Kootenay Grassland Ecosystem Restoration Program was given $189,000, the largest grant of 16, to improve wildlife habitat through some prescribed burns in Premier Lake Park, Columbia Lake and Kindersley Creek to help conserve ecosystems that ungulates and bighorn sheep depend upon.

HCTF chair Harvey Andrusak believes the grant selection process is competitive because it vets applicants for the best projects to aid in conservation.

“Each year, we receive hundreds of applications requesting funding for BC conservation projects,” Andrusak wrote in a recent press release. “Only the best are selected for funding.”

The HCTF awarded $68,150 to investigate the cause of death in collared mule deer north east of Invermere to Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations through the Kootenay Mule Deer Survival Monitoring, and $87,000 to take stock of mountain goats throughout the East Kootenay for the East Kootenay Mountain Goat Population Assessment through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

While these projects will take place near Invermere, added Springinotic, these investments will be shared throughout the region.

In addition, the Village of Radium Hot Springs received $10,000 to develop a strategy to encourage bighorn sheep migration outside of the community during the spring 2015 to reinforce spring migratory behaviour of bighorn sheep — a project that has been underway since spring.

“I was through Radium last year and there’s a lot of bighorn sheep through there,” said Springinotic. “I don’t pretend to understand all of the details there, but our funding in that project was for the management only. None of our funding is to be used for any activities actually on the ground… The money we’re providing to the Village of Radium is just for planning.”

There was $1,450 provided to assist with the operation and maintenance cost of roughly 115 significant wildlife habitats across the province with a focus on the Columbia Lake Westside to provide treatments for invasive plants in the Wildlife Management Area through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Lastly, there was $5,175 provided to reduce forest density and create a better habitat for ungulates near the Columbia Lake Eastside through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Operations.

“There’s a lot of hunters, anglers, trappers and guides who give us a lot of money so I would think that they’ll be pleased that some of their money is coming back into their region,” said Springinotic.

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