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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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PCAF Project Makes Ancient Forest Accessible to All

PCAF Project Makes Ancient Forest Accessible to All
Earlier this month, hundreds of people turned out for the Grand Opening of the Universal Boardwalk, near Dome Creek, BC . The newly-constructed boardwalk allows people of all ages and abilities to experience hiking through a unique inland temperate rainforest. The Ancient Forest is one of only a few surviving stands of old-growth cedar forest in the Upper Fraser River and Robson Valley, and is home to a rich abundance of native flora and fauna. There are more tree species within the inland rain forests than anywhere else in BC, and these include some impressive specimens: a number of the Ancient Forest's giant cedars are over 1000 years old and nearly 16 feet in diameter. More than 200 different kinds of lichen have been found here, some of which researchers believe may be newly-discovered species. And the forest and surrounding area provides habitat for a suite of iconic BC carnivores, including grizzly bears, lynx, wolves, wolverines, and cougars. Before the boardwalk was constructed, the rough terrain of the Ancient Forest Trail made it extremely difficult for people with physical limitations to experience this spectacular ecosystem first-hand. Now, the boardwalk provides full access for visitors requiring wheelchairs or other mobility devices.  ...
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New Docks for Urban Lakes

New Docks for Urban Lakes
A joint venture between HCTF, FFSBC and the Province is making angling more accessible to families who may have previously found going fishing a challenge. By installing docks and making site improvements at stocked lakes near urban centres, the Vancouver Island Urban Lake Fishery Development & Improvement Program is providing new opportunities for anglers young and old to experience great fishing close to home. Urban lake infrastructure programs have been created to help reverse the trend of declining angler numbers across BC. Research by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) indicates that one of the best ways to increase angler participation is through creation of new fishing opportunities for youth. By constructing family-friendly fishing sites that don't require a boat and are within easy driving distance of urban centres, project leaders hope to eliminate some of the hurdles that may have previously discouraged families from fishing. The Vancouver Island Urban Lake Fishery Development & Improvement Program began in 2009 with seed funding from HCTF. Project leader Scott Silvestri and his team carefully selected project sites that would both maximize potential angler benefits and minimize expenditures through partnerships with local clubs and municipalities. The project has already received over $75,000...
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