RDEK approves funds for 2017 Local Conservation Fund Program

The RDEK recently announced $87,600 in funding for eight programs in this year's Local Conservation Fund Program.

The Regional District of East Kootenay recently announced at its latest board meeting that it will be providing $87,600 in funding for a number of initiatives through the 2017 Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund Program.

The Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund has been supporting conservation projects since 2010 after being the first fund of its kind to be created in Canada through a referendum vote in 2008.

Since then, the program has been very successful with over 60 conservation projects funded to date, totalling more than $1.6 million in funding and resulting in over $16 million being leveraged by the projects.

This year, the Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) received 10 proposals seeking as much as $118,466 in funding through the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund Program for 2017. Of those proposals, the technical review committee in charge of recommending projects for the RDEK board’s approval suggested that funding in the amount of $87,600 should be granted to eight different proposals.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council were the two projects that did not receive recommendation or approved funding from the RDEK.

Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, one of the members of the RDEK board of directors and chair of the Columbia Valley Services Committee, said that she wasn’t overly surprised by some of the programs that were selected this year to receive funding given the expertise of the technical review committee.

“The Review committee has been doing a great job in the years that they have been doing it and we’re all pretty happy with the recommendations they’ve been giving us,” she said. “The reason we have that committee is that we don’t have the expertise to make the choices to choose which project deserves it more than the other.”

This year, the project that received the most funding and was rated highest priority was that of the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners, who requested $31,550 for reintroducing Northern Leopard Frogs to the Columbia marshes. This project aims to continue to bring Northern Leopard frogs to areas such as Brisco while monitoring reproduction to re-establish self-sustaining populations of the species in the Columbia marshes. In the end, the technical review committee recommended that they receive $28,000 in funding, which the RDEK board of directors supported.

Other projects to receive funding include the Columbia Wetlands Bird Survey, the Kootenay Community Bat Project and the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society, which will receive $11,900 in funding for improving water monitoring of the Columbia Lake to increase the knowledge of the water in order to take better steps to preserve it.

As mayor of the village of Canal Flats, Juras said she was also happy to see that the Columbia Lake received the much-needed attention it deserved in this year’s Local Conservation Fund.

“Of course, being from Canal Flats, I was very pleased that the last few rounds the Columbia Lake water monitoring received some funding as historically there weren’t a lot of projects that came forward from this end of the Valley,” she said.

Each year, the Kootenay Conservation Program begins accepting proposals for projects that need funding in the fall, said program manager for the KCP, Juliet Craig , noting that if any conservation groups in the Columbia Valley are looking for funding for a project, they should look for the application date to open later this year.