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Explosive Start to Restoring Steelhead Passage on the Coquihalla River

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     A huge chunk of rock and debris preventing summer steelhead from reaching their spawning grounds has been at least partially cleared, thanks to a partnership between government, engineers, and non-profits. A fallen railway support abutment from the historic Kettle Valley Railway had been blocking fish passage up Othello Falls on the Coquihalla River since 2014. Using low-velocity explosives, engineers have split the blockage into smaller pieces, which should be able to be washed downstream by fall and winter high-water events. HCTF provided funding for this project along with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, who have a fantastic write-up of the project on their blog .    
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HCTF Visits the Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project

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The Cowichan Shoreline Stewardship Project (CSSP) has been restoring riparian habitat along Cowichan Lake and River since 2014. HCTF staff were invited to a tour of various restoration sites on the 1 st of September, and we were pleased to attend to see the results of this important HCTF funded stewardship project. The CSSP is a combined effort between the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) and the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society (CLRSS), with the later as the main “community lead”. The CLRSS is made up of local residents with a strong desire to preserve and protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that surround and sustain the lake. In the initial three year phase of the project 2014-17, a total of 26 lake/river shoreline properties have been restored under CSSP, totaling 7,239 square metres of riparian habitat improvements. To date, average plant survival has exceeded 85% for the majority of sites. In this same period, CLRSS volunteers have conducted a total of 282 riparian owner visits around the lake/river, and administered 227 standard surveys designed to gauge shoreline owner knowledge and preferences for preservation of natural riparian habitats. The project has been funded for another three-year phase (2017-10), we look forward...
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87+ Acres Conserved for Bighorn Sheep

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Penticton —The Nature Trust of British Columbia is pleased to announce the purchase of the Skaha Lake Eastside property near Penticton with the support of many partners and donors.  “So glad there’s been success with the Skaha Lake property,” said Judie Steeves, West Kelowna freelance writer. “As a kid, I used to go hike up on those bluffs and sit and contemplate the future as I looked out over Skaha Lake. I love that area. Saw my first rattler in the wild there, too.” This property which spans 35.4 hectares (87.5 acres) features critical habitat for Bighorn Sheep and other wildlife on the eastside of Skaha Lake. It is adjacent to our existing Skaha Lake Property complex which is included in the McTaggart-Cowan/Nsək’łniw’t Wildlife Management Area. This land has a variety of habitat ideal for Bighorn Sheep. The open grassland dotted with ponderosa pines and Douglas-fir provides grazing area and the rocky steep bluffs provide protection from predators.  “This property is one of the last remaining undeveloped benchlands on the eastside of Skaha Lake,” said Nicholas Burdock, The Nature Trust of BC’s Okanagan Conservation Land Coordinator. “It takes you only a few steps to recognize how beautiful this location is...
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Help Stop Whirling Disease from Entering BC

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Last August, Canada's first case of whirling disease was confirmed at Johnson Lake within Banff National Park. Alberta's Bow River, Red Deer and Oldman River watersheds have now been declared infected with whirling disease by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the rest of the province declared a buffer zone (see map ). The disease devastated wild trout populations in the Western United States in the 90s, but its effects on fish populations can vary. In a recent interview with the Calgary Herald , Aquatic Invasive Specialist Kate Wilson said scientists are unsure how the disease will impact Alberta's wild fish. As there's no cure for whirling disease, Alberta is focused on monitoring, education and following protocols to stop its spread. Though BC has not (yet) had a confirmed case of whirling disease, HCTF is helping to fund a coordinator to lead a whirling disease monitoring and education program in BC. Here's a quick primer on whirling disease, and what you can do to help stop it from spreading.  What causes whirling disease? Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite (Myxobolus cerebralis) that infects both fish and freshwater worms during different phases of its lifecycle.                       What are the symptoms? In fish, the parasite affects the cartilage near the spine,...
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The Secret Life of Wolverines

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When you read the word “wolverine”, what comes to mind? A snarling, snapping North-American version of the Tasmanian devil? A fearsome furball taking down prey ten times its size?  Hugh Jackman? For a creature whose reputation has reached mythical proportions, it might surprise you to learn that there’s still a lot we don’t know about wolverines. Naturally rare, wolverines are found in remote wilderness areas, making them challenging study subjects. But with increasing pressure on the landscapes that wolverines and other wildlife call home, it’s more important than ever for land managers to have accurate information on wolverine populations in BC. Advances in research techniques and technology are not only providing the data necessary to protect wolverines, they’re actually changing the way we view this elusive species. Cliff Nietvelt is a BC government wildlife biologist who has been studying wolverines since 2009.  It was that year, working on a collaring project in the North Cascades, that he had his first up-close encounter with a wolverine. “We had set up a box trap and caught other carnivores but had no luck getting any wolverines,” recalls Cliff.  “I’d actually gone out to close the trap for a few days when I noticed...
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