Tue, 22 Sep 2015

Penticton Creek Completion Achieves Major Milestone in Restoration Project

A major milestone has been achieved in Penticton Creek restoration this week, as the showcase project construction and the creek side planting program have been completed.

“We have already had several reports of Kokanee navigating upstream with ease along the new creek bed. The difference you can see in Penticton Creek before and after the restoration project is amazing,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “The City of Penticton is grateful for the tremendous support of our partners in this initiative, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation – their financial support has really made this project possible.”

 

The restoration of Penticton Creek was identified during the 2012 Downtown Plan consultations as among the top priorities for residents and businesses, and has been identified among the long-term Downtown 101 action items to be completed for revitalizing the downtown.

Construction started Aug. 4, a historic event that saw concrete pulled out of Penticton Creek for the first time in over 50 years. The showcase project was designed to demonstrate what creek restoration can look like, with the goal of restoring fish habitat, maintaining flood protection and stabilizing creek banks.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), provided significant funding for both the planning and construction phases of this project.

HCTF CEO Brian Springinotic says the Foundation’s support of the restoration of Penticton Creek aligns with its previous million-dollar investment in a recovery plan for Okanagan Lake’s kokanee. “The Okanagan Lake Action Plan made strong recommendations to improve spawning habitat in historic kokanee streams such as Penticton Creek,” said Springinotic. “This restoration project will help deliver on those recommendations.”

This sample project includes a small section (80 metres) of Penticton Creek upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. This site was chosen to substantially improve fish habitat, as well as address severe maintenance issues while showing the community the transformation in a visible area.

Designing a creek bed that safely moves water through the area is important for flood protection, and this was considered in the balance with elements that create good fish habitat – rearing areas (resting, hiding and feeding zones), spawning grounds, and minimizing velocity and elevation barriers to migration. Fish species that stand to benefit from improved habitat include Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.

The public is invited to check out the completed Penticton Creek restoration showcase project. The Ellis Street bridge offers an excellent vantage point. For information, visit www.penticton.ca/downtown.

The Penticton Creek restoration project would not have happened without the funding and contributions of several agencies: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., Province of B.C., Penticton Indian Band, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Okanagan Nation Alliance, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Penticton Flyfishers and Downtown Penticton Association.

Thu, 27 Aug 2015

New Docks at Poirier Lake

Local residents have a new place to go fishing with the recent completion of the Poirier Lake docks in Otter Point’s William Simmons Memorial Community Park.

One of two new docks is lifted into place on Poirier Lake (click on photo for larger image)

The project involved installation of a boat launch dock and separate fishing dock. The boat launch dock is adjacent to a new parking area and trails providing access to Poirier Lake. The fishing dock is accessible via a new path connected to the park’s Panama Rail trail, about a 3-minute walk from either the boat launch parking lot or the Butler Road parking area, off Otter Point Road.

The docks were installed as part of a Vancouver Island fishing infrastructure program, initiated by the Province of BC. The program was designed to encourage participation in angling through increased accessibility to fishing spots near urban centres. “The key to developing the next generation of anglers is to get young kids and families involved at an early age. Poirier Lake is stocked with a good density of catchable rainbow trout,” stated Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Minister Steve Thomson. “The new dock will provide kids with a great opportunity to catch a fish, hopefully getting them hooked on the sport for the rest of their lives.”

The lake is stocked by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, who also administer the infrastructure project. “The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC is working with partners around the province to improve access to fishing,” said Adrian Clarke, Vice President of Science. “By funding docks, such as this one, we’re helping to make it convenient and easy for local residents to fish, especially if they only have a few hours.”

Funding for the docks came primarily from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), an environmental granting organization that views angling as a way of getting people connected to the outdoors.

“People care most about the things they know,” says Brian Springinotic, HCTF CEO. “One of the ways people can connect with their local environment is to head out to a natural setting with their families and fish.”

The Juan de Fuca Parks and Recreation department utilized program and UBCM Gas Tax funding for associated construction costs and materials to the Poirier dock project. The addition of the docks, trails and new parking and picnic areas was part of the park’s long term plan to enhance recreational opportunities on Poirier Lake. “The ability for local residents to fish and recreate on Poirier Lake was welcomed by the community as a great addition to this local park” says Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks.

The new fishing dock at Poirier Lake (click on photo for larger image)

 

 

Mon, 24 Aug 2015

Rewilding Burrard Inlet

HCTF’s Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program was recently featured in the Vancouver Sun and CBC News as a great example of rewilding, the concept of supporting the re-establishment of key species in areas where human actions have caused them to disappear.

Though the term “rewilding” has been around since the mid-nineties, the idea has received increased media attention in BC with the publication of Vancouverite J.B. McKinnon’s Once and Future World. Increasingly, biologists, NGOs, corporations and governments are considering the potential of restoring fish and wildlife habitat in even the most urban areas, re-connecting a city with its not-so-distant, wilder past. For example, Vancouver was once home to over 50 salmon streams, most of which have been eliminated through residential and industrial development. Those that have survived are often heavily degraded, especially their estuarine habitats where freshwater meets sea. These estuaries are critically important for juvenile salmonids that are transitioning to salt water, and these have been the focus for restoration work under the Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program.

HCTF created the Burrard program in 2012 as a way of maximizing the benefits that could be achieved using creative sentencing money from the 2007 Burnaby oil spill. Projects rehabilitating historical fish habitat at MacKay Creek and Seymour River estuary have already resulted in increased numbers of fish making it up the waterways to spawn. Work is currently underway at Lynn Creek estuary and pending at Mosquito Creek estuary, with hopes that salmon and cutthroat trout populations can also be restored to these systems.

You can listen to HCTF Board member and Director of the Rivers Institute Dr. Ken Ashley talk about rewilding efforts in Burrard Inlet and across BC on CBC’s BC Almanac this Friday, August 28th at 12:30pm (rescheduled from Wednesday, Aug 26th).

 

Mon, 24 Aug 2015
Tags: Fisheries

Penticton Creek Restoration Underway

Penticton Creek restoration project is underway.

Newly restored creek banks are taking shape along Penticton Creek, as the first restoration project for Penticton Creek hits the halfway point this week.

Construction started Aug. 4, marking the first time concrete was removed proactively from Penticton Creek as part of a showcase project designed to demonstrate what creek restoration can look like. Project goals include restoring fish habitat, maintaining the flood protection and stabilizing creek banks.

“We are so pleased to see the phenomenal progress on this project, as a huge first step in making Penticton Creek more sustainable,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “The City of Penticton is grateful for the tremendous support of our partners in this initiative, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation – their financial support has really made this project possible.”

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation Board member Ian McGregor sees the Penticton Creek project as a potential showcase for future stream restoration projects in the Okanagan. “Restoring historically productive kokanee streams is a major component of the Okanagan Lake Action Plan,” said McGregor. “It’s great to see the City of Penticton taking the lead on a project that will benefit fish populations while simultaneously addressing the needs of Penticton residents.”

This sample project includes a small section (80 metres) of Penticton Creek upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. This site was chosen to substantially improve fish habitat, as well as address severe maintenance issues and show the community the transformation in a visible area.

Designing a creek bed that safely moves water through the area is important for flood protection, and this has to be considered while balancing elements that create good fish habitat – rearing areas (resting, hiding and feeding zones), spawning grounds, and minimizing velocity and elevation barriers to migration. Fish species that stand to benefit from improved habitat include Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.

The public is invited to check out Penticton Creek restoration in action. The Ellis Street bridge offers an excellent vantage point to watch crews undergo work. For information, visit www.penticton.ca/downtown.

The Penticton Creek restoration project would not have happened without the funding and contributions of several agencies: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Province of B.C., South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., Okanagan Nation Alliance, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Penticton Flyfishers and Downtown Penticton Association.

Watch recent video coverage of this project on Global News>>

Tue, 7 Jul 2015
Tags: Fisheries

HCTF Takes a Look at the Kitimat River Cutthroat Trout Project

Aerial photo showing development along the lower Kitimat River.

As part of our evaluation program to ensure HCTF funds are benefiting fish and wildlife conservation, HCTF staff regularly visit project leaders to get an in-depth look at their projects – both on paper (financials) and on the ground.

In early June, HCTF staff biologist Lynne Bonner and financial officer Katelynn Sander travelled to Terrace to meet with Regional Fisheries Biologist Jeff Lough to learn about his project Kitimat River Cutthroat Trout Behavioral Assessments.

 

 

The Kitimat River drains a large coastal watershed and discharges into the head of Douglas Channel at the town of Kitimat. It is a high priority for coastal cutthroat trout because of impacts from multiple human activities in the watershed. It also supports a popular fishery for both local and visiting anglers and the angling effort is significant.

Prior to this study, information on the coastal cutthroat population was limited and anecdotal. This project aimed to investigate the patterns and behavior of coastal cutthroat, in an effort to understand how best to keep the populations healthy and sustained. In a joint radio telemetry and genetic analyses study with the University of Northern BC (UNBC), key cutthroat spawning, migration, and overwintering areas were identified. By understanding these crucial behavioral patterns, managers will have a better idea of where and when these populations are most vulnerable, and what actions are required to help protect them.

Project data and results are being analysed and rolled into a MSc thesis by UNBC MSc candidate Eric Vogt who carried out much of the fieldwork. The study results and options for management will be used by the Ministry to help inform land use decision making in the Kitimat watershed and sustainable angling regulations for the Skeena Region.

After a couple of hours in the office reviewing invoices and project objectives we were anxious to get out and see the actual project area. Jeff had arranged (and HCTF funded) a one-hour helicopter overview of the watershed. The flight took us over the upper Kitimat River where timber harvesting had clearly impacted the entire valley over the past couple of decades. Farther down the mainstem, Jeff pointed out the many side channels and small feeder streams that were highly productive cutthroat trout spawning and rearing habitat. Several large tributaries, such as the Wideene, extended cutthroat habitat up into the mountains. These habitats and their importance to all stages of cutthroat life history are the key pieces of information gleaned from this HCTF project’s telemetry work over the past 3 years.

 

Evidence of oil and gas development appeared at various locations in the valley and as we approached the lower reaches of the Kitimat River towards the estuary, industrial development intensified with the former pulp mill site, the aluminum smelter and the village of Kitimat spreading out below. We also saw anglers fishing for salmon along the river, reminding us that cutthroat trout fishing is very popular at various times throughout the year.

Our evaluation and review illuminated the practical and financial challenges presented by this type of habitat assessment study. This three-year project was complex in nature, due to multiple partners and multiple contract extensions, but the financial aspects were well documented. Clearly written and timely proposals and reports enabled us to better understand the project objectives and expected outcomes.

A big thank you to Jeff for taking the day to explain his project and to the other members of the team that helped make this project a success – Dr. Allan Costello, UNBC, grad student Eric Vogt, UNBC, and in-kind contributions from DFO, the Steelhead Society of BC, Kitimat Rod and Gun Club, and Haisla Fisheries. We were impressed with how well this project was implemented and managed.

And finally, we are particularly pleased that funding emerging from an environmental infraction (court awarded to HCTF) was put to good use and managed effectively and efficiently for conservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How a Court Award led to the Kitimat Cutthroat Assessment Project

This project was initiated in 2012-13 after HCTF received Court Award funding when a company was fined for an environmental infraction at the mouth of the Kitimat River. A creative sentencing provision in the Fisheries Act enabled a portion of the fine to be directed to HCTF. These funds were then invested into the same watershed where the original violation occurred. For additional information on HCTF and creative sentencing, click here. While the Court Award ($60,000) was the catalyst, over the three years of the project HCTF contributed an additional $200,000.

 

Mon, 22 Jun 2015

Fraser River Sturgeon Project Featured on CBC

CBC put together some great coverage of an HCTF-funded project that is tracking sturgeon in the Lower Fraser River. Project leader Erin Stoddard, dubbed the “sturgeon surgeon”, implants acoustical tags in these giant, prehistoric fish so that scientists can learn more about their movements and spawning sites, and can use this information to suggest policy changes that will protect them.

You can read the CBC article and watch the videos here:

 

The Lower Fraser White Sturgeon Telemetry Study is in its second year of funding from HCTF, and also receives in-kind support from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society.