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Precious Waste: Using Woody Debris to Create Connectivity Across Clearcuts

Precious Waste: Using Woody Debris to Create Connectivity Across Clearcuts
Clearcutting continues to be the dominant harvesting system across much of North America. Its environmental impacts have long been the subject of debate, but there’s a general consensus that this forestry practice results in a shift in the species inhabiting an area. In the years following a clearcut, grasses and shrubs thrive, providing browse for moose and deer. However, this short-term boon comes at the expense of some of the site’s previous residents. Furbearers such as weasels and marten depend on mature forest, both for concealment from predators and for den and rest sites in the form of coarse woody debris. On most clearcut sites, this debris is burned after harvest. But what if there was a way to prevent the displacement of some forest-dependent species by building habitat out of waste wood instead of burning it? We spoke with Dr. Thomas Sullivan of the Applied Mammal Research Institute about his HCTF-funded project examining whether windrows constructed out of waste wood could reduce some of the negative impacts of clearcutting on small mammals. HCTF: I understand that many furbearers are reliant on mature forest habitat, and will inevitably be impacted by clearcutting. Would you say your project is about making...
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Declining Den Sites: Finding Cavities Fit for a Fisher

Declining Den Sites: Finding Cavities Fit for a Fisher
What’s furry, fierce and likes to dine on porcupine? It’s the fisher, Pekania pennanti , a member of the weasel family that is seldom seen in the wild, but is an important part of British Columbia’s carnivore community. Despite its name, fishers do not fish and are dependent on forests for all their life history needs. The fisher is blue-listed (threatened) in BC, largely due to habitat loss. Female fishers require large diameter trees with cavities to birth and raise their young. They will only use cavities with entrance holes that are approximately 8 – 12 cm in diameter: large enough for them to squeeze into, but small enough to keep larger predators away from their kits. Den trees also need to have other trees and shrubs around them to allow the female approach her den unseen. These specific requirements (along with the fact that females usually require multiple cavities to accommodate the growing kits) make fisher populations extremely vulnerable to extirpation through loss of suitable denning habitat.   In the Bridge River Watershed, north of Lillooet, BC, fisher habitat has been impacted by the creation of two large hydro-electric reservoirs, large-scale fires, mountain pine beetle, and an ongoing history...
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Tiny Technology: Mapping Marten Movement

Tiny Technology: Mapping Marten Movement
In the frozen wilderness of North-central BC, a small, furry head pops out from under the snow. Its fox-like profile stands out against a creamy orange bib of fur. In a flash, the animal’s long, lithe body and bushy tail spring from the powder. It is an American Marten ( Martes americana ), a medium-sized mustelid known for its tree-top acrobatics and cat-like curiousity. She boldly lopes across the snow towards a tasty morsel, conspicuously placed to entice her into a cage trap disguised with branches and straw. Marten are commonly trapped for their pelts, but this cage won’t spell her demise. Instead, she will become part of a ground-breaking study examining marten’s movements, and how they might be affected by forestry practices. Shannon Crowley, a researcher with the John Prince Research Forest (co-managed by UNBC and T’laz’ten Nation), and his colleagues check the study traps daily: if they’re lucky enough to get a marten, they fit it with the latest in GPS collars before releasing it safely back into the forest. “They’re tough little critters,” confides Crowley. “Based on our experiences capturing them, they’re not fearful at all. We’ve had marten in cage traps that we’ve released, only to...
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Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes
Each spring, BC’s fire crews brace themselves for the intensity of the fire season ahead. At the time of writing, 2014 was on track to become a record year. Since the beginning of the season in April, more than 330,000 hectares had burned, only ~8,000 HA shy of the 30 year record. News coverage of evacuations and threats to human infrastructure have shaped our perception of forest fires. We think of them as catastrophic forces of destruction: unpredictable disasters to be suppressed or extinguished at all costs. There is, however, another side to forest fires, one that would suggest this year’s increased fire activity - if kept away from human settlement and infrastructure - is actually beneficial. Ecologists have confirmed empirically what First Nations have known and practiced for centuries: fire is as much a force for renewal as it is of destruction. After a forest fire, what appears as scorched wasteland is actually an ecosystem ready to begin anew. Under the charred earth, roots and seeds lie waiting to capitalize on the nutrients provided by the ashes of their predecessors. Sunlight, once scarce under the thick canopy of mature trees, now reaches the ground, allowing grasses and berry-producing shrubs...
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Fishing in the City

Fishing in the City
Watch a video about this FFSBC program designed to get BC's urban residents fishing. HCTF funds the Fishing in the City program as part of  project # 0-353.