Wed, 24 Aug 2016
Tags: Fisheries

Rock Breaking Begins at Seymour Slide Site

Aerial photo of the Seymour River rockslide. Photo credit: Taylor Ramsden

The Seymour Salmonid Society and its partners are pleased to announce that work has begun to restore fish migration around the rockslide debris that has blocked the Seymour River for over 20 months.

On December 7, 2014, an estimated 50 000 cubic meters of rock fell into the lower canyon of the Seymour River following a catastrophic slope failure. The slide debris blocked the river and caused upstream water levels to rise by almost 10 meters. Acoustic and radio tagging studies have confirmed that the blockage has prevented both adult and juvenile salmon from accessing their primary spawning habitats upstream, creating serious concerns about the survival of salmonids on the Seymour. The river is home to unique runs of wild summer and winter steelhead, currently listed by the Province as a conservation concern. Coho, chinook, chum and pink salmon also use the river as spawning and rearing habitat.


Shaun Hollingsworth, President of the Seymour Salmonid Society, emphasized the effects the blockage will have on the river’s fish populations if left unmitigated: “If these fish remain cut off from their spawning habitats, the Seymour’s wild steelhead and coho populations will likely be reduced to mere remnants within five years. The summer-run steelhead may ultimately disappear,” says Hollingsworth. “We must do whatever needs to be done to save these fish.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Salmonid Enhancement Program, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Metro Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Bands have all agreed in principle to begin re-shaping the slide using scaling crews, low-velocity rock breaking, and river flows as part of a shared vision to “restore migration conditions for all species that existed before the 2014 rockslide, in a safe and sustainable manner.”

Funding for the reshaping has been provided by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, the Recreational Conservation Partnership Program, the Department of fisheries and Oceans, both the District and the City of North Vancouver, Coho Society of BC, Steelhead Society of BC, BC Federation of Drift Fishers, and multiple private donations.

The Seymour Salmonid Society is a community based organization consisting of volunteers whose mission is to enhance Seymour River salmon and educate the public about the importance of the river as a resource for drinking water, wildlife, and the forest. For more information, contact Brian Smith, Seymour Salmonid Society Hatchery Manager on 604 288-0511. To join the community volunteers, or donate, please visit


PDF Version of Release

Photos (please contact us for larger versions of these images)


Credit Simon Ager

Credit Taylor Ramsden


An engineer marks drilling locations in preparation for Wednesday's rock breaking on the Seymour River.


Read the story in the North Shore News >>

Wed, 1 Jun 2016
Tags: Education

Schools Grow Connection with Nature

Wild School Kids Learning Outdoors.jpg

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced it will provide over $62,000 for 25 BC schools selected to participate in its Wild School program. The 3-year program provides teachers and students of K-8 schools with free resources, training and support for environmental learning, outdoor field experiences and connections to conservation work in their communities.

Three schools within the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District#27 have been accepted into the Wild School program: Marie Sharpe Elementary, Horsefly Elementary and 100 Mile Elementary.

Calvin Dubray, Principal at Marie Sharpe Elementary, says the school is looking forward to beginning the program next fall, especially since it will coincide with the start of their new Nature Kindergarten program.

“Our staff and students are currently engaged in place-based education and we are seeing deeper, richer learning happening,” says Dubray. “We are excited about the additional opportunities and experiences the Wild School program will offer to enhance our outdoor learning initiatives.”

The Wild School program evolved from the successful Science in Action program that began in 2006. Science in Action was a single year program focused on providing K-8 teachers and schools with resources to support hands-on, active learning through science. In 2012, Science in Action began the transition to the Wild School program, a multi-year model that incorporates healthy and sustainable initiatives toward connecting schools to nature.

HCTF Education Manager Kerrie Mortin says the Wild School program evolved from their experiences delivering Science in Action, and is supported by current research about the effectiveness of whole-school program models. “One of the key elements of the Wild School program is professional development. The shift from a one-day workshop model to providing multiple years of professional development opportunities – including workshops, mentoring, networking and support- has been shown to be more effective in helping teachers build capacity and transform their teaching and learning, leading to better outcomes for students.”

Marie Mullen, Principal of Fulford Elementary School in SD#64, says the Wild School program has provided their teachers with the resources, activities and know-how to get their students learning outside. “[HCTF’s] generous support of field trips and eco-mentoring has enhanced our place-based learning initiatives and helped our students connect with- and become stewards of- their local environment.”

Ashley Frketich, a teacher at Ecole Margaret Jenkins School in SD61, agrees that the program was instrumental in making the transition to outdoor learning. “After attending one of the workshops, I realized I could take a lot of little steps to move my classroom outside,” says Frketich. “I was very surprised at how easy it was. As a result, my class has spent a lot more time outdoors than ever before and we are all loving it.”

Over the past nine years, the Wild Schools and Science in Action programs have helped 3500 BC teachers in 267 schools provide hands-on environmental learning experiences to over 72,000 students.

About the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF)

Since 1981, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has provided more than $160 Million in project funding to more than 2,000 conservation, restoration, enhancement, and educational projects across BC.

HCTF believes that investing in education is key to the future of conservation. The Wild School program is just one of HCTF’s Education program areas; they also offer GO Grants to cover transportation and programming costs for getting students learning outdoors and Connect to Conservation, a forum to connect the education community with on-the-ground conservation work.


Click on photos for full-resolution images.


Students from Monteray Middle School learn to identify a variety of intertidal animals on a GO grant funded field trip. Principal Ken Andrews says the school has greatly benefitted from the Wild School program.




For more information contact:


Kerrie Mortin

Manager, HCTF Education

Phone: 250-940-9787


107- 19 Dallas Road

Victoria BC V8V 5A6



Mon, 30 May 2016
Tags: Wildlife

Meet the 2015 Fisher Den Box Kits

It's a little hard to make out, but in this photo, Inga the fisher is working hard to remove her kit from the artificial denbox. Fisher moms frequently move their kits around, and Inga later returned with her kit and its sibling to the denbox.

We received the following video update on the Fisher Artificial Den Box Study from biologist Larry Davis. Davis and his team are trying to determine if female fishers will use human-constructed den boxes to raise their young, as there are very few of the fisher’s natural denning sites left in some areas of their range. “Fisher require large diameter trees with heart-rot cavities for reproduction,” says Davis. “These trees are rare in managed landscapes.”


2015 was the third year of this HCTF-funded project, and Larry and his team continued monitoring the 56 installed den boxes to see if they were being used by fishers.

“We have been successful in attracting fishers to 50% of the den boxes, with many of the structures used for resting during winter,” reveals Davis. “We identified 45 fisher samples using hair snaggers located at the entrance to the den boxes. Of these, 14 were identified as being unique females, with 8 of them using the structures more than once, and 4 of them detected at 2 different den boxes.”

During the 2015 reproductive season, two fisher females used artificial den boxes to give birth to and raise their young. The video features footage of “Debbie”, who gave birth to one kit in April 2015. Davis explains that fisher moms often move their kits around, and Debbie was no exception: the video shows her leaving the den box with her kit on April 8th and returning the kit to the den box at the end of May. In the Chilcotin, 2 kits were photographed inside a den box on April 8, 2015. A trail cam set up to document the female (“Inga”) and her kits using the den box again in early June, 2015.



Davis has continued monitoring the den boxes in 2016 and reports there are already 3 being used by female fishers. We look forward to receiving an update on how the moms and kits are doing later this year.

Thu, 19 May 2016
Tags: Fisheries

Kids Take Part in Moberly Lake Trout Conservation Efforts

HCTF Board Chair Ross Peck helps out with the lake trout release at Moberly Lake.

At Moberly Lake last Tuesday, fifty elementary students (and HCTF Chair Ross Peck) helped government staff release 8,000 juvenile lake trout as part of an ongoing effort to rebuild a population that has come dangerously close to extinction.

When the Province began the Moberly Lake rehabilitation program back in 2010, there were less than 400 trout in the lake. Their extreme drop in numbers was thought to be caused by a combination of overfishing and competition or predation from other fish species. Historically, Moberly Lake’s lake trout were an important part of the local First Nations fishery and a favourite of local anglers, but the lake has been closed to all trout fishing since 2002, and is closed to all fishing from September 15 to October 31 to protect lake trout during their spawning season.

Last Tuesday’s lake trout release was the third release of the rehabilitation program, for a total of 36,000 released fish. The Ministry is hopeful these releases will aid in re-establishing a stable lake trout population on Moberly Lake. Over the past four years, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has provided funding to the Ministry to evaluate the effectiveness of their lake trout recovery program. As well as continuing to monitor the total number of lake trout in Moberly, staff are also tracking the survival, growth, fitness and reproduction rates of the stocked juvenile lake trout. The information collected will help detect shifts in the Moberly Lake fish community and hopefully identify why survival of juveniles is low, in the hopes that a long-term solution can be found.

Fri, 15 Apr 2016
Tags: Education

BC Kids Granted Opportunities for Outdoor Learning

Children from the North Okanagan Shuswap School District learning outdoors with help from an HCTF Education GO Grant.


Victoria –The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced it will provide over $66,000 for BC schools to get their students out of the classroom and into the outdoors. Their aptly-named GO (Get Outdoor) Grants will be used to pay for bus transportation, project materials and program fees to provide hands-on outdoor learning experiences for more than 4500 students.

The North Okanagan Shuswap School District was one of many school districts across the province who will be benefitting from GO Grants this spring. In total, 5 of the District’s schools plus an additional 10 classes through a district-wide grant will receive just over $7700 for outdoor, environmental education field trips, including some of the following:

  • Armstrong Elementary’ s grade 4 and 5 classes will visit Kingfisher Interpretive Centre to learn about salmon and salmon habitat
  • Salmon Arm West Elementary’ s grade 2/3 and 4/5 classes will be getting out on the Shuswap River to explore life along the river and conduct local indigenous plantings
  • Shuswap Middle School class of grade 6/7 will be going to Norfolk Wild Regional Park to investigate and measure biodiversity in the park
  • Hillcrest Elementary grade 2/3 classes will take a trip Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park to examine plants and animals in the ecosystem

Now in its fourth year, demand for HCTF’s GO Grant program has steadily increased, and requests for grants now exceed the amount of funding available. HCTF received over 150 applications in its February intake, 68 of which were approved. HCTF Education Manager Kerrie Mortin hopes the amount of funding available can be increased in future years.

“Costs such as bussing, program or leader fees, and outdoor field equipment are huge barriers for many classes here in BC,” says Mortin. “GO Grants are relatively small amounts of money that can make a huge difference to whether or not a class can experience outdoor learning. HCTF believes this is one of our most important investments for our future, and so do educators:”

Teachers who have used the grants to take their classrooms on outdoor learning field experiences report that this type of learning has huge benefits.

“Fieldtrips are a fantastic learning experience for children,” says Nuala Powers, a kindergarten teacher at Sacred Heart School in Prince George. “There’s only so much you can show them or read about in the classroom. But when they go out in the environment and really experience it, it’s fantastic for them.”

Kim Fulton, a retired teacher and administrator, agrees. “Through these grants, children learn about the diverse ecosystems in BC,” says Fulton. “They develop a stewardship ethic to look after these systems and all the critters and plants in them for future generations.”

Since the program’s inception in 2012, GO Grants have allowed more than 25,500 BC students to get outdoors for a total investment of $333,067. The average cost per student is $13.

About the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF)

Since 1981, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has provided more than $160 Million in project funding to more than 2,000 conservation, restoration, enhancement, and educational projects across BC. HCTF believes that the key to the future of conservation is investing in education. GO Grants is just one of HCTF’s Education program areas which also includes WildBC, a long-running and successful program that has been providing and supporting educators with environmental education programs and resources for over 25 years.

For more information, contact:

Kerrie Mortin 250-940-9787

Manager, Education Programs

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation

Tue, 15 Dec 2015

New Nesting Platform Eagle-Approved

Photo by Fiona Wright

Residents of Vancouver’s North Shore have some new feathery neighbours. A pair of bald eagles has moved into a nesting platform built last summer at MacKay Creek estuary, which was recently restored as part of HCTF’s Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program. Eric Anderson of the BC Institute of Technology led the project to construct a platform at the head of the estuary, adjacent to the Spirit Trail. The host tree was selected by biologist David Hancock, whose extensive experience with eagle nest construction was critical to identifying a cottonwood of suitable size, shape, and location. To get the tree eagle-ready, arborists carefully pruned some of the non-dominant stems to improve accessibility. Next, a cedar frame was attached using special lines designed to allow the tree to move and grow unharmed.

The frame is put in place - Photo by Ryan Senechal

Finally, the frame was lined with cedar boughs to make it a little more inviting for any prospective tenants.

Cedar branches are added to make the nest more inviting - photo by Ryan Senechal

It appears to have worked!

Photo by Fiona Wright

HCTF provided a grant both for the construction of the platform as well as complementary studies by four BCIT students? of eagle ecology that will inform future nest construction projects. The grant was made possible through an endowment HCTF received from the Ministry of Transportation as part of a compensation strategy for a bald eagle nest tree removed for the 2010 Highway 91 Interchange project. ?