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Natural Allies

Natural Allies
Robin Annschild of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy explains how working together with their local Rod & Gun Club has turned out to be a win-win situation. Listen to anyone speak about the good ol’ days of conservation in this province, and it will quickly become apparent how much things have changed.  Though environmental pressures have increased, stable sources of funding have become increasingly hard to come by. From land conservancies to stewardship groups, organizations have had to find ways of doing more with less, requiring increased resourcefulness, innovation and formation of partnerships beyond traditional allies. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) had the opportunity to talk with Robin Annschild, Conservation Director of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy , about how her organization is doing just that, to the benefit of everyone involved. Robin, over the past 3 years, the Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC) has managed to secure an impressive amount of habitat, but I’m told there’s far more work to be done. Why is land securement so important on Salt Spring? Salt Spring lies within the Coastal Douglas Fir zone–the rarest ecosystem in the province with the highest number of species at risk. Over 50 rare or endangered...
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Biologists and Winter Recreationalists Team Up to Save Telkwa Caribou Herd

Biologists and Winter Recreationalists Team Up to Save Telkwa Caribou Herd
In the Telkwa Mountains near Smithers, BC, a small herd of Mountain Caribou persists after nearly disappearing from these ranges only two short decades ago. With their rich colouring and impressive antlers, Mountain Caribou are striking animals, highly recognizable as the local cousins of the legendary reindeer. They are also among the most endangered animals in Canada, and have been reduced to a fraction of their historic range.  Over the last half century, the Telkwa herd’s population has undergone a steep decline, hitting a low of six herd members in the mid 1990s. Recovery efforts have helped increase their numbers to around thirty animals, but this still leaves them at high risk of becoming locally extinct. Since 1996, HCTF has invested in Telkwa herd monitoring projects to provide data essential to recovery programs. The most recently-funded Telkwa Caribou project is a collaborative effort between biologists and local winter recreationalists to determine the effect that activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, and ATVing could have on the survival of the Telkwa herd. The Impacts of recreation and wolves on Telkwa caribou recovery project uses satellite technology to collect data that will eventually be used to inform management practices. The project team has...
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Bringing Back the Sharpie

Bringing Back the Sharpie
For an animal whose survival depends on being inconspicuous, the Sharp-tailed Grouse has developed quite a following. That’s because  once a year, the males of this cryptically coloured species gather together for a dramatic display of dueling and dancing. If you've never seen these birds in action, it’s worth a look: though an increasingly rare sight in the wild, a quick Google search will turn up multiple clips of Sharp-tails stomping, vibrating, clucking and chirping at each other, all part of a dance of dominance designed to capture the attention of Sharp-tailed hens.  Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek in Snow (HD) from Dawson Dunning on Vimeo . Starting at dawn, the males gather to establish territories on the dancing grounds, known as leks. Birds return to these sites year after year to perform their animated mating ritual , which  provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to do bird counts to determine if their populations are changing - or if they've disappeared. When it was first described by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s, the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse was considered to be the most prolific game bird in the Northwest. Historically, the Columbian subspecies of Sharp-tail was found across nine of the...
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News Coverage of Delta Farmlands Project

News Coverage of Delta Farmlands Project
Global News BC ran the following story on HCTF Project #2-349, the Provision of Waterfowl & Raptor Habitat within Managed Grasslands on Lower Fraser River Farmland. The Foundation has contributed over $150,000 to this project, which encourages farmers to plant their fields with winter cover crops and create grassland set-asides. These programs are designed to simultaneously benefit farmers and wildlife by improving soil conditions while creating habitat.  Winter cover crops provide a valuable food source for migratory birds, and grassland-set asides support small mammal populations and create raptor hunting grounds. Earlier this year, HCTF did an evaluation of this project, which you can read about  here . You can find out more about the Winter Crop Cover and Grassland Set-asides programs by visiting the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust website .    
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Good, Clean Dirt

Good, Clean Dirt
UVic student Nathalie Vogel submitted the following narrative about PCAF Project 976, the Restoration of Robin Lane. HCTF contributed over $5000 to this project, which involved more than twenty volunteers removing invasives and restoring native plants to a former Garry Oak site in Saanich, BC. Thank you, Nathalie, for sharing your story.   What do you get when you combine sunshine, fresh lemongrass tea, Salal, Oregon grape, some restoration veterans and the smell of earth in your nostrils? A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon spent at Robin Lane, sharing in ecological restoration, and bodily rejuvenation. Fellow classmate and restoration rookie Jenna and I had the pleasure of sharing an afternoon with two ladies who know this business like the dirt under their nails. Sylvia Samborski and Louise Goulet have been working with plants for decades – both through their careers as naturalists and biologist/teachers and now through their hobbies of gardening, restoration and the continued desire to learn.  The fortune was truly ours that afternoon as the women passed along words of wisdom and knowledge about plants and life – the line sometimes blurring between the two. Robin Lane, our Eden of escape on that brisk January afternoon, is a piece of...
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