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Students Help Transform MacKay Creek

Students Help Transform MacKay Creek
Over the past two months, MacKay Creek estuary has undergone an amazing transformation. The estuary's revival is the keystone project in HCTF's Burrard Inlet Restoration Program , a pilot created using funds from a creative sentencing award and designed to maximize habitat benefits through innovative partnerships. One of the project partners is Bodwell High School , located just steps away from the MacKay Creek restoration site on Vancouver's North Shore. The restoration of the MacKay Creek estuary began in September with the removal of a large concrete weir which had previously prevented migrating chum salmon, coho salmon and cutthroat trout from entering the creek. Next, the elevation of the estuary's tidal benches was re-graded, creating a substrate that could support saltmarsh vegetation such as eelgrass and sedges. Large pieces of wood were strategically placed in the water and the tidal benches, both to provide refuge for fish and wildlife and to help discourage Canada geese from  overgrazing the new vegetation. Once the heavy equipment work was complete, it was the students' turn to start planting native species along the banks of the estuary. Bodwell's Green Team, mentored by teacher Bianca Ferrajohn, had previously been involved in removing invasive plants from...
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BC's Wild/ Domestic Sheep Separation Program

BC's Wild/ Domestic Sheep Separation Program
The November rut is a magnificent display of strength and agility, a refined ritual that has been practiced by bighorns for centuries. The sights and sounds of these iconic B.C. mammals vying for dominance evoke a sense of respect for the ruggedness of a species that Theodore Roosevelt referred to as "one of the noblest beasts". Yet the rut can be a treacherous time for bighorns, far beyond the risk of injury from their intra-species tussles. For these highly social animals, the real danger can lie with the company they keep. Wild sheep share a number of similarities with their domestic cousins: they will use the same forage and water sources, and can even interbreed. Where bighorn range and domestic sheep operations overlap, it's understandable that a randy ram might find a large flock of domestic ewes worth a closer look. Unfortunately, these forays can have deadly consequences. Even nose-to-nose contact between the two species can result in the transfer of a pathogen lethal to wild sheep. And because it takes time for animals to become symptomatic, an infected (but visibly healthy) bighorn that returns to its herd will spread the disease, potentially decimating an entire population. For nearly a...
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Ritchie Lake Wetland Restoration: From Bad to Rad!

Ritchie Lake Wetland Restoration: From Bad to Rad!
The following story was provided by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program , detailing the amazing transformation of a damaged bog into a key piece of wildlife habitat. The Summerland Sportsmen’s Association received an HCTF PCAF grant to fence and restore the Ritchie Lake wetland, one of the last intact wetlands in the Garnet Valley. Through partnerships with Province, local conservation organizations and the incredible efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers, they have certainly provided a helping hand for wildlife in BC. In the 1980’s the Province of BC had the foresight to purchase a number of properties in Garnet Valley just north of Summerland to augment existing crown lands and conserve some of the highest quality ungulate winter range some wildlife biologists had ever seen. The area, known as “Antler’s Saddle” is low elevation and highly suitable winter and early spring ranges for mule deer. The valley and hillside also supports sensitive grasslands, wetlands and open forest ecosystems – habitat for other wildlife species, some of which are federally listed as “at risk”. The area is managed by the Province of BC through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and what a challenge it is to...
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Elkink South Block, Sagebrush Slopes and Sparrow Grasslands

The South Okanagan-Similkameen region is a biodiversity hotspot, home to unique assemblages of plants and animals. The Bunchgrass Zone ecosystem of this region is found in less than one percent of BC, yet it supports a tremendous diversity and density of wildlife.  Unfortunately, agricultural use and urbanization have resulted in this delicate ecosystem becoming one of the three most endangered in Canada. With thirty percent of the province’s at-risk species dependent on it, there has been a great impetus to conserve grassland properties before the ecosystem and its inhabitants are lost. HCTF contributed $800,000 to NCC ’s purchase of three properties in the South Okanagan Similkameen that contain significant amounts of grassland habitat.  Sagebrush Slopes, Sparrow Grasslands and Elkink South Block added a total of 1,263 hectares of invaluable habitat to existing protected areas. Together, these parcels comprise the most extensive sagebrush community in the region. Their protection preserves migration corridors and allows wildlife to move freely between the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys, and through to the desert areas of the western United States. Red-listed species on site include the Grasshopper, Lark and Brewer’s Sparrows, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Badger and Burrowing Owl. Once the management plan for the recently-purchased Elkink...
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Columbia Lake: Marion Creek Benchlands and Lot 48

Columbia Lake sits at the head of the Columbia River, nestled between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, about 7km South of Fairmont Hot Springs. The lands surrounding the lake are part of the East Kootenay Trench Ecosection, home to one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of species in the province. These include many of BC’s iconic large mammals, supported by a mosaic of habitat types that include native grasslands, Douglas-fir forests, and long stretches of wetland that comprise one of the last intact portions of the Pacific Flyway. In 2010 and 2011, HCTF was approached by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to help secure both the Marion Creek Benchlands (204 ha) to the west of Columbia Lake, and Lot 48 (127 ha) on its eastern shore.  These properties were “missing links” in established tracts of conservation lands, which risked being fragmented by residential development. Both contain grasslands used as vital winter range for ungulates, including blue-listed Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. They also provide critical habitat for non-game species, such as the red-listed Badger, and are used as movement corridors by wildlife including Grizzly Bear and Elk. HCTF contributed $750,000 towards the purchase of these properties to protect...
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