Thu, 24 May 2018
Tags: Stewardship

Sit Back, Relax, and Count Some Bats

A volunteer helps count bats for the Community Bat Program. Photo M. Kellner

The BC Community Bat Program is seeking volunteers and bat colonies for the Annual Bat Count. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites. “Bat counts are a wonderful way for residents to get involved in collecting important scientific information” says biologist Mandy Kellner, coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program. “No special skills are needed, you can be any age, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.”

The Annual Bat Count will collect baseline data on bat populations before the devastating White Nose Syndrome fungal disease affects bats in the province.

“White Nose Syndrome is estimated to have killed more than seven million bats since it was first discovered in eastern North America a decade ago,” says Kellner. “In March 2016, the disease was detected just east of Seattle, and has now spread within Washington State. This has greatly increased our urgency to understand bat populations in BC. We need the public’s help to census local bat populations – we never known when it is our last year to obtain population estimates before White Nose Syndrome causes widespread declines in western North America.”

Counts are easy! Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions. Ideally, 1 – 2 counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and 1 – 2 more between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying.

We know relatively little about bats in BC, including basic information on population numbers” continues Kellner. “This information will be extremely valuable, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will try to match them with a roost site nearby.”

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, and with support of the BC Conservation Foundation and the Province of BC, the BC Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats. To find out more about bat counts, or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, visit www.bcbats.ca or call 1-855-9BC-BATS.

Wed, 9 May 2018
Tags: Stewardship

Opportunity for BC Kids to Participate in Citizen Science

A metallic green sweat bee on a bitterroot flower (Lewisia rediviva) photographed by Valerie Huff in Trail, BC.

NatureKids BC is launching a new pollinator citizen science project this week that encourages kids and their families all over British Columbia to collect data on local pollinators. The project will provide opportunities for children to get involved in real science and learning about nature on their doorstep.

Through pollinator surveys and education materials, children will learn about wild pollinators and how to identify them. They will collect data on the abundance and diversity of bees, wasps, and butterflies in green spaces in their local area through data collection events and be encouraged to get involved in stewardship activities that increase pollinator habitat.

Pollinators in British Columbia include insects such as beetles, wasps, flies, butterflies and bees that distribute pollen from one flower to another as they forage and as a result fertilize plants. Bees and other pollinators are a key component of global biodiversity because they play a vital role in maintaining wild ecosystems as well as pollinate plants that produce food (crops, fruits, nuts and seeds) that wildlife and humans rely on to survive.

World-wide, pollinator populations are declining with parallel declines in the plants that rely on them for pollination. Both wild and domesticated pollinators are suffering from a range of threats including diseases, pesticide exposure, malnutrition, habitat loss and climate change.

Erin Udal, Pollinator Citizen Science Coordinator with NatureKids BC, says: “Pollinators are a critical component of our environment both here in BC and globally and it takes all of us to help protect them and their essential habitats. Through this citizen science initiative, youth all across BC can contribute to generating local knowledge and awareness and can help our communities make more informed conservation decisions.”

Louise Pedersen, Executive Director with NatureKids BC, adds: “Citizen science is an opportunity to dive into a new universe for children and it’s a great educational tool that harnesses the intrinsic curiosity of children for the natural world. It’s incredibly powerful when children come to understand that they can make a real difference.”

To get involved with NatureKids BC’s pollinator citizen science project and to download instructions and pollinator ID information, visit https://www.naturekidsbc.ca/be-a-naturekid/stewardship-citizen-science/pollinators/

As part of the launch of the pollinator citizen science project, NatureKids BC will host a pollinator survey led by NatureKids BC pollinator educator, Erin Udal on Saturday, May 12 at 1-2:30 pm. by UBC Forest Sciences Center, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4. Learn more here: https://naturekidsbc_2018agm-and-pollintor-explorer-day.eventbrite.ca

NatureKids BC’s pollinator youth citizen science project is supported by the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, TD Friends of the Environment and Nature Canada.

Mon, 7 May 2018

PCAF Application Deadline May 16th

Salt Spring Island Conservancy staff and volunteers work together re-potting native vegetation as part of their PCAF project.

There’s just over a week left to send in your PCAF application. These grants are available to BC conservation projects with a strong volunteer component. For information on how to apply, see our PCAF application webpage.

Thu, 3 May 2018

Premier Announces Eagle Heights Purchase

Premier John Horgan Announces the purchase and protection of the Eagle Heights property on Vancouver Island

Victoria, BC – Premier John Horgan has announced the successful acquisition of Eagle Heights Grasslands near Koksilah River Provincial Park. Premier Horgan, along with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, made the announcement on Thursday morning at West Shawnigan Lake Park. They were joined by representatives from Cowichan Tribes, the Cowichan Valley Naturalists and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) who spoke about their roles in protecting this property and the value of partnerships.

HCTF contributed $400,000 to the purchase of Eagle Heights as part of its habitat acquisition granting program. HCTF CEO Brian Springinotic said the Foundation’s decision to partner with BC Parks on the purchase was because the property contains high-value habitat for many species of wildlife. “Eagle Heights is an interesting mix of habitat types, from pocket grasslands to old-growth forest,” said Springinotic. “These support a diverse assemblage of wildlife, including cougar, black bear, Roosevelt elk, and threatened species like Western Screech Owl and Northern Goshawk.” The Federal Recovery Strategy for the Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies has identified Eagle Heights Grasslands as one of 10 critical habitats on Vancouver Island. The property is also home to many rare and endangered plant communities.

Springinotic credits the province’s hunters and anglers for providing HCTF with the funding used to secure important habitat. “The reason we’re able to help with the purchase of Eagle Heights and the many other conservation properties we’ve helped fund over the years is the conservation surcharge on all angling, hunting, trapping and guide outfitting licences sold in BC,” says Springinotic. “We put a lot of effort into making sure the money raised through licence sales is invested into projects that will make a real difference for fish and wildlife. Buying land to protect its habitat in perpetuity is one way we are working to conserve this province’s incredible natural assets, for the benefit of all British Columbians.”

Wed, 2 May 2018

2018 Invasive Mussel Monitoring Grant Recipients

Mussels

The following organizations have been approved for funding under our Invasive Mussels Lake Monitoring program:

  • Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society
  • Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance
  • Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council
  • Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society
  • Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society
  • Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society
  • East Kootenay Invasive Species Council
  • Invasive Species Council of British Columbia (Cariboo)
  • Skeena Fisheries Commission
  • Northwest Invasive Plant Council
  • Boundary Invasive Species Society
  • Christina Lake Stewardship Society
  • Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society

Funding will be used by proponents to undertake monitoring of substrates and plankton tow sampling for mussel veligers.

For more information, contact Christina Waddle at christina.waddle@hctf.ca

Mon, 30 Apr 2018
Tags: Stewardship

Tiny Turtles Sign of Spring

HCTF project leader Michelle Evelyn looks at a new painted turtle hatchling on the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast residents are being asked to keep their eyes open for one of the most wonderful signs of spring: tiny baby turtles emerging from their underground nests.

The coastal population of Western painted turtle is federally threatened and provincially red-listed and faces many threats. For over a decade, the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project has been working with the community to ensure the survival of this species at risk.

Painted turtles lay their eggs in June and the babies hatch in the fall but remain in their underground nest all winter and don’t leave their nests until the following spring. Baby turtles emerge from distinctive rectangular holes and each tiny hatchling is the size of a loonie.

Identifying nest sites and monitoring nest success is critical to conservation efforts to project the species. If you have seen a baby turtle or a nest emergence hole, please report your sighting by emailing coastwildlife@gmail.com or calling 604-989-1007.

Turtle stewardship efforts on the Sunshine Coast are supported by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Gencon Foundation, and the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. For more information visit www.facebook.com/coastwildlife or www.coastwildlife.ca

Thank you to project leader David Stiles for providing this project update.