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Elk Lake Enhancement Project

Elk Lake Enhancement Project
On Vancouver Island, a local angling club is taking the lead in a project to improve fish habitat conditions at a popular urban lake. The Victoria Golden Rods and Reels (VGRR)'s Elk Lake Enhancement proposal is one of 116 projects recently approved by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation . VGRR received a $5,000 seed grant to support the creation of a plan that will address the lake's declining water quality, a problem which has impacted fish and wildlife, along with a broad spectrum of recreational users. Concerns around Elk Lake's water quality were most recently publicized in January , when the lake’s annual polar bear swim had to be relocated due to the presence of a toxic algal bloom. The blue-green surface scum was confirmed to be cyanobacteria, a photosynthetic bacterium that thrives in conditions where excess nutrients are present in the water. Blooms of cyanobacteria have been an ongoing problem in Elk Lake, where phosphorous levels have been elevated through residential and agricultural development of the surrounding land. Since 2009, the lake has seen at least four such blooms, which can cause serious illness or even death in humans, pets, and wildlife. Though the events tend to be short-lived,...
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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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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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HCTF Grant Helps Move Penticton Creek Rehabilitation Forward

HCTF Grant Helps Move Penticton Creek Rehabilitation Forward
 It’s been sixty years since Penticton Creek, Okanagan Lake’s third largest tributary, was able to support healthy fish populations. The creek, which runs right through downtown Penticton, was channelized in the early 1950’s in response to seasonal flooding. Transformed into what is essentially a concrete trough, the creek lost much of its spawning and rearing habitat for cutthroat and rainbow trout. Other tributaries to Okanagan Lake have been impacted by a range of habitat losses, resulting in a dramatic decline in fish spawning numbers from historic levels. Now half a century old,  the concrete lining the creek is failing. Rather than replacing the current structure with more of the same, the City of Penticton is using this opportunity to rehabilitate the creek in a way that will restore critical fish habitat while still providing flood protection for surrounding communities. A $63,000 grant from HCTF will provide much-needed funding to complete the design stage of the project, allowing incorporation of leading science and current best practices into the plan. In an interview with Global News , Acting Penticton Mayor Garry Litke commented on the positive effect that creek rehabilitation will have on the surrounding environment: “The long term benefits are the...
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River Restoration Benefits Fish & Anglers

River Restoration Benefits Fish & Anglers
Fish—and anglers—in the Kettle River watershed are the beneficiaries of a three-year project by the environment ministry, with funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, to restore natural flows in the river. In 2003 and 2009 there were fish kills due to low water levels, which reached historic lows during the 2009 drought, recalls environment ministry biologist Tara White, who has been heading up the project to improve the situation for the last few years. Fishery closures were put in place in the past, but efforts to improve conditions have allowed recreational fishing to re-open more recently. In fact, White says there was a six-fold increase in fish numbers after installation between 2007 and 2009 of 29 large, woody debris structures throughout the river, which provide deep water refuge for rainbow trout. Now, they’re building on that with this three-year Kettle River Streamflow Protection Plan funded by the HCTF. At issue are over-harvesting of fish, increased agricultural use and development in the valley and environmental damage such as removal of natural riparian cover and in-stream debris. The ministry has been working to improve the deteriorating condition on the Kettle River for the past two decades, while flows have declined at...
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