Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Tags: PCAF / Stewardship

Haliburton Wetland Turns Ten!

Haliburton wetland

A decade ago, a group of volunteers began an ambitious project: transform a field overgrown with invasive reed canary grass into a wetland able to support wildlife. Today, Haliburton Wetland in Saanich, BC, stands as a fantastic example of how people and nature can co-exist.

Last week, Dr. Purnima Govindarajulu gave HCTF staff members Karen Barry, Jade Neilson and Courtney Sieben a tour of the wetland located at Haliburton Community Organic Farm. Although it took some time for the constructed wetland to look natural, it is now fully functioning and has become home to a variety of wildlife species such as tree frogs, long-toed salamanders, and birds.

Over the years, HCTF has provided a total of $24,600 from the Enhancement and Restoration granting stream and from the Public Conservation Assistance Fund (PCAF) for this project. It’s great to see that this project is continuing to make a difference for wildlife species ten years on! You can read more about the Haliburton Wetland in the following HCTF project profile.


The property is a former reservoir site for Saanich under the ALR. In 2001, the property was slated for a housing development but Saanich stepped in to purchase the land and lease it to the Haliburton Community Organic Farm Society. It is now run as a community farm and several producers grow food for consumption, plus there is a native plant nursery on site. The wetland was created in an adjacent area that was formally dominated by grasses.

HCTF provided $10,000 for wetland restoration and creation of a demonstration project, and later $5000 seed funding. More recently, the project received $9,600 from PCAF for tools, native plants, construction of watershed models and stream restoration expertise.

To see a video of the wetland construction (17 min), see

Entrance to the wetland site

Entrance to the wetland site

Enhancement and Restoration Activities

The wetland site was overgrown with reed canary grass so early efforts focused on installing mats and removing the grass and other non-native species. Experts were called in to assist with designing the wetland. It took a few years for the constructed wetland to look natural.

Pond liner laid down to smother reed canary grass


Now that the wetland is functioning, tree frogs and long-toed salamanders have moved in, as well as wetland birds (herons, red-winged black birds). Other enhancement activities include installing bird nest boxes and maternal bat houses. Chickadees, Violet-green swallows, and Bewicks wrens have nested in the boxes, but the bat boxes have not been used yet.

Monitoring activities are conducted regularly and include checking bird boxes, minnow trapping the wetland, and checking wood structures and pit fall traps for amphibians.

Bird box and mason bee box


Wetland and replanted area

Wooden cover boards used as an active trap for salamanders


The restored area will require ongoing maintenance. In other words, it’s not possible to leave it and “let nature take its course”. In particular, removal of invasive plants is a significant challenge (morning glory, thistles, reed canary grass, etc.). The group has limited capacity for conducting detailed monitoring, so there is a desire to have more student groups, graduate students, and volunteers involved.

Another concern is the high number of non-native European wall lizards. With the increase in these lizards, there seems to be a decline in crickets at the site and it’s possible these lizards are eating many native insects.

Future plans

  • To create more riparian area in order to provide suitable habitat for red-legged frogs.
  • To create another series of small vernal ponds.
  • To increase the involvement of students and initiate an ongoing education program linked to school curriculum.

Purnima with Jade and Courtney

Thu, 4 Apr 2019
Tags: PCAF

PCAF is Keeping Up with the Curlews of BC’s Skookumchuck Prairie

HCTF’s Public Conservation Assistance Fund provides small grants to organizations and individuals who need financial help to implement a conservation project. PCAF funded projects focus on hands-on, community-based initiatives with a high volunteer component.
In the case of the Long Billed Curlew Habitat Project, volunteers were involved in surveying habitat for the mating birds, followed by nest finding and monitoring. With their help, researchers have been able to learn about curlew migration, following individuals as far south as California’s Imperial Valley.

Read more about the project in this article, originally published in BirdWatch Canada.

Thu, 5 Jul 2018
Tags: PCAF

Volunteers Wanted: BC American Kestrel Nest Box Program


One of our PCAF grant recipients is looking for volunteers to help with their citizen science project. The British Columbia American Kestrel Nest Box Program is a Citizen Scientist initiative that involves the installation of nest boxes in BC to help kestrels find safe and secure places to nest and to facilitate observation and monitoring by volunteers. American kestrels, or kestrels for short, are the blue, brown, white and orange birds that are about the size of a Steller’s jay that are often seen perched on power lines hunting for voles and grasshoppers. Kestrels are the smallest falcon in North America and are also a cavity nesting species that readily use nest boxes.

Project leader Mitchell Warne is looking for suitable locations to install the kestrel nest boxes throughout most of BC. The preferred habitat for kestrels is pasture, hay land and orchards. However, the habitat can also be a mix including some agriculture.

If you would like to volunteer to have a kestrel nest box installed on your property and/or to observe/monitor any nest box(es) please contact Mitchell Warne at For more information on the program, visit

Mon, 18 Jun 2018
Tags: PCAF

2018-19 Approved PCAF Projects

HCTF has just approved grants for 21 community conservation projects under our PCAF program. PCAF (Public Conservation Assistance Fund) provides grants of up to $10,000 for BC fish and wildlife conservation projects with a strong volunteer component. The following projects will receive PCAF grants this year:


Project Name Sponsor Project Description
Moberly Lake Moberly Lake Community Association (MLCA) This disturbance assessment project within the watershed that supports Moberly Lake will determine current road crossing impacts and encourage improved erosion control, culvert remediation, and perhaps undertake plantings to improve riparian/stream bank functions and fish habitat, thus reducing sediment loading into the lake.
Spallumcheen Wetland Restoration New Beginnings Benevolent Society The Society is collaborating with Splatsin Yucwmenlúcwu (Caretakers of the Land) to construct a wetland from an ephemeral pond on a one hectare section of farmland. Through educational workshops and activities, the wetland will provide the opportunity for youth to study an enclosed ecosystem – the physical, chemical, and climatic environment, and the processes that control the dynamics of the system.
Enhancing Wildlife Habitat for Birds, Bats and Bees on Salt Spring Island, BC Salt Spring Island Conservancy The Salt Spring Island Conservancy will work with landowners to install and monitor bat, owl, and bee boxes on Salt Spring Island to enhance habitat for rare bat and owl species and pollinators. Volunteers will assist in building, installing and monitoring boxes, which will increase awareness of these rare species and their habitat needs and threats. Experts will also assist with surveying and monitoring of boxes to determine use and assess distribution on the island.
Restless Bight Beach Clean-up B.C. Marine Trails Network Association The project will be a cleanup of shoreline and uplands area on a six-kilometre beach and upland area called Restless Bight. It is located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island near two provincial recreation sites called Rowley Reefs Peninsula (north and south). The purpose of this project is to remove a large amount of plastics and debris.
Restoring Wetlands and Ecological Function in Dumois Creek, Logan Lake District of Logan Lake Project activities aim to improve water quality in Logan Lake and the habitat of the watershed
BC American Kestrel Nest Box Program Mitchell Warne To implement an American kestrel nest box program in British Columbia (BC) to improve the breeding success of kestrels in BC to help increase their population and public awareness. The nest boxes would be installed this year (fall 2018) for the 2019 breeding season. The plan is to install 270 kestrel nest boxes throughout BC. The different regions will have a variable number of boxes depending on the individual region and habitat availability. These boxes would then be monitored and maintained by volunteers. Nest boxes will be spread out throughout the province with small clusters of boxes in areas with high quality habitat.
Brown Creek Restoration Project Wildcoast Ecological Society Wildcoast Ecological Society has partnered with Stream of Dreams Murals Society to provide a joint program with elementary schools and the restoration of 1000m2 riparian zone and stream.
Bat Maternity Colony Monitoring & Habitat Improvement Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance (OSCA) The Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program is seeking PCAF funds for two related activities aimed at improving “anthropogenic” (human-built) bat habitats. The bulk of the funds will be used to improve pup survival in an apartment attic that houses the largest-known Yuma and Little Brown Myotis bat maternity roost in Penticton. A small amount of project funds will be used for material to make shields for the temperature sensors (to keep bats from roosting against or fouling the sensors and affecting temperature readings).
Northern Red-legged Frog and Wildlife Habitat Protection on Fork Lake Highlands Stewardship Foundation (HSF) The project centres on Northern Red-legged Frog, Tree Frog and Wildlife Habitat Protection. Fork Lake, located in the District of Highlands, Victoria BC, is one of the last regional strongholds for Northern Red-legged Frogs as most of the lakes in
the CRD have been overrun with eastern bullfrogs and have had intensive pressure from human use due to population growth and development. Fork Lake has a strong history of keeping bullfrogs off the lake to ensure the habitat and ecosystem remain in balance. Efforts include ongoing bullfrog management, regular physical measurements, sampling and analysis of physical/ chemical/ biological tests, and recently plant species management, of which growth is likely tied
to climate change and may indicate eutrophication.
Clear the Coast 2018 Living Oceans Society Project to further restore foreshore habitat within Cape Scott Provincial Park. Last year, with the
assistance of PCAF, we were able to work for the first time on the Park’s North Coast Trail, where
substantial accumulations of plastic debris were found to have accrued. This year, we are advised by early reconnaissance that another large pulse of debris has arrived on Vancouver Island’s northwest coast. The project intends to return to both the North Coast and Cape Scott trails, as well as several water-access only areas along the northwest coast.
South Coast Species at Risk Conservation Aimee Mitchell on behalf of Coastal Partners in Conservation Federally endangered and provincially red-listed, the Western Painted Turtle (Pacific Coast population) face many threats including wetland loss and degradation, nesting habitat destruction, predators, poaching, invasive species, human disturbance, and road mortality. While focusing on this charismatic species and incorporating species with already known overlapping occurrences at some sites including; the Western Screech-owl, Little Brown Myotis and Townsend’s Big-eared Bat, the project will conduct threat mitigation, monitoring and outreach throughout the South Coast of BC.
West Kettle Spring Deer Counts Granby Wilderness Society The project counts deer utilizing spring green up along multiple transects in the West Kettle. Counts are completed by volunteers who follow a set protocol each spring. The count information is shared with wildlife managers and other interested individuals upon request.
Health Assessment of Wetlands near Peachland Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance The Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA) and other volunteers/NGOs are proposing to undertake wetland health assessments in the upper watershed area near Peachland. Volunteers will be using the newly released Forest and Range Evaluation Program (FREP) wetland protocol. This protocol was developed to allow persons with basic working knowledge of wetlands to evaluate the health of wetland sites in or near industrial and development activities.
Bats of Burvilla At Risk South Coast Bat Conservation Society Citizen scientists will initiate a long-term passive monitoring program a significant bat maternity roost with the goal of elevating the profile of bat conservation in southwest BC and detecting population trends associated with a devastating wildlife disease.
Connected Waters: field work and mapping project Watershed Watch Salmon Society The purpose of this project is to develop a list of priorities for upgrades based on the potential quality and quantity of fish habitat upstream from flood control structures and based on the current function and need for the flood control structures with consideration of required/planned upgrades. All data will be stored on our publicly accessible Connected Waters Atlas hosted by our partners at the Community Mapping Network.
Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is working with partner organizations and community volunteers to implement the Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project which is taking action against invasive non-native species in and around the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area that are causing ecological damage to our native ecosystems.
Growing a Garry Oak Meadow: A rehabilitation project for beautification and pollinator conservation Peninsula Streams Society Peninsula Streams, with partners Pollinator Partnership Canada (P2C) and Saanich Native Plants (SNP) aim to undertake native plant restoration, public education and engagement, and a native bee monitoring project on a 2,000 m2 field adjacent to Blenkinsop Creek and the Lochside Trail by the BC Hydro substation. This parcel is dominated by invasive grasses and forbs, providing little value to native wildlife. The restoration will create a visually appealing site in a high-traffic area along the trail while simultaneously providing value to native wildlife, volunteer opportunities, community engagement, and education.
Elk Valley Stormwater Solutions – Phase I Elk River Watershed Alliance Elk Valley Stormwater Solutions is a multi-phased project designed to develop informed strategies to
reduce the negative effects of stormwater on aquatic, riparian and wetland ecosystems. This project will increase public awareness and education surrounding stormwater, while creating an opportunity to take action in mitigating the effects of altered hydrology and decreased water quality from stormwater being discharged into the Elk River.
Engaging Communities in Bird Conservation Bird Studies Canada Since 1999, Bird Studies Canada (BSC) has operated programs that recruit, train, and coordinate skilled volunteers to monitor these globally and nationally significant concentrations of waterbirds. This project will therefore aim to: a) strengthen the stewardship capacity of communities along Boundary Bay and Tsawwassen; b) increase awareness of Citizen Science monitoring programs and stewardship along Boundary Bay and Tsawwassen; and c) provide educational materials including new signage that incorporates Coast Salish language in coordination with the Tsawwassen First Nation. Through this project, BSC will work with local citizens and the Tsawwassen First Nation, sharing ideas and knowledge around bird conservation in this IBA in danger.
Restoration of riparian habitat around Ellis Creek sediment basin Okanagan Nation Alliance This project intends to restore the riparian habitat area around the sediment basin located near Ellis Creek, Penticton, BC. Riparian vegetation around the sediment basin has been significantly impacted during sediment excavations that are part of flood protection maintenance operations, a process that take place every 5-10 years.
Fishing Forever B.C. Wildlife Federation This fiscal year there are 11 communities who have committed to Fishing Forever events: Williams Lake, Peachland, Nanaimo, South Okanagan, Smithers, Nelson, Parksville, Vernon/Lumby, Lower Mainland, Courtney and Vanderhoof. DFO has offered to wave all need for fishing licenses for these special events. Each event takes place on a unique day in the respective community, from May through August.

You can download a PDF of this list here.

Thu, 21 May 2015

PCAF Project Leader Honoured with Trail Dedication Ceremony

Unveiling of the trail dedication sign.

Shane-Lake-sign_small.jpgOn May 8th, Prince George officials and community members gathered together with family & friends of the late Bob Graham to celebrate the naming of a new trail in his honour. The Bob Graham Trail is situated within Prince George’s Forests of the World park. The trail provides access to the fishing dock on Shane Lake, installed in 2012 as part of a PCAF project led by Mr. Graham and the Polar Coachman Fly Fishers Club. Bob envisioned a “city fishing place” where local residents could experience and enjoy angling as much as he did. In addition to receiving a grant from HCTF, Bob also secured funding from the City of Prince George, Polar Coachmen Flyfishers, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Integris, Canfor, and Sinclar Group, and helped coordinate the many volunteer hours that made the dock a reality. HCTF Board members Dr. Winifred Kessler and Don Wilkins attended the dedication ceremony, and shared the following photos:

Ceremony participants take a walk on the dock.

HCTF Board member Dr. Winifred Kessler with some successful Shane Lake anglers.

Unveiling of the trail dedication sign.

If you’re interested in trying out fishing at the Shane Lake Dock, it’s circled on the map below (map courtesy of the City of Prince George: click on image to enlarge). The dock is about a 15 minute walk from the parking lot. Shane Lake is stocked with rainbow trout by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC: you can access the latest stocking reports here. And don’t forget to purchase a fishing licence if you’re 16 or over: as well as allowing you to participate in a great outdoor activity, your licence fees pay for stocking programs, fish conservation and angling infrastructure projects like this one.


Tue, 7 Oct 2014
Tags: PCAF

Garnet Valley Wildlife Habitat Protected


This past week, volunteers from the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association worked alongside the Provincial Conservation Officer Service and the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program in Garnet Valley between Summerland and Peachland, posting new motorized vehicle regulations and restrictions signs as well as marking and deactivating illegal trails.

Garnet Valley has some of the Okanagan’s most valuable wildlife habitat, with south-facing slopes ideal for winter and early spring habitat for mule deer. The valley is a beautifully diverse landscape – with sensitive wetlands, grasslands, rugged terrain and open forests. It’s a link for wildlife to move and connect to other important natural areas away from the busy Hwy 97 corridor.

With the support of HCTF in the 1980’s, the Province of BC recognized the importance of the Garnet area and purchased a number of private parcels to augment crown land holdings. A significant increase in motorized vehicle damage and illegal trail building over the years has markedly degraded the habitat and resulted in disturbance to mule deer on their winter range.

In early 2014, the Province of BC established new Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regulations under the Wildlife Act for Garnet Valley to protect the values. The new regulations for Garnet Valley designate open legal routes and closed illegal routes to protect wildlife and allow habitat to recover. Leading up to the closure, BC Conservation Officers and Forestry Compliance and Enforcement Officers had been providing education and information about the coming changes to the motorized recreation community – now it was time for full implementation.

The partnerships forged during a successful PCAF project in 2012 came together once again with the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program and the BC Conservation Officer Service working side by side to assist in the protection of Garnet Valley wildlife habitat. With funding provided by the HCTF Public Conservation Assistance Fund 2014 and in-kind matched by the partners, vehicle closure project was completed during the last week of September. Volunteers and government staff systematically marked the open and seasonally open routes, while marking and deactivating the illegal routes over a number of blue bird fall days. A flat tire on the backhoe was the only hitch in an otherwise seamless project supervised by Sargent Jim Beck of the BC Conservation Officer Service.

Garnet_Valley_sign_installation.jpg“The success of our last PCAF project has inspired all of us, the sportsmen’s club, the conservation partnership and the provincial government to keep working together for habitat recovery in the Garnet”, said Bryn White, SOSCP Program Manager. In 2012, HCTF’s PCAF program supported an application from the groups to fence one of the last wetlands in the valley called Ritchie Lake that had been significantly degraded by mud-bogging off road vehicles and cattle. In one year after the wildlife-friendly fence was built, the dry rutted area was unrecognizable. In its place was a beautiful and lush wetland complete with reeds, dragonflies and ducks. This year, the group took some time to sit and have lunch at Ritchie Lake to enjoy the view. It wasn’t long before talk of another damaged wetland area seen in the north end of Garnet Valley came up that would benefit from excluding cattle and mud-bogging off road vehicles. McLachlan Lake looks very similar to Ritchie Lake – pre-fence. It is holding water for the first time in a number of years, and would be a perfect joint project given its location between the Summerland and Peachland Sportsmen’s Club. Stay tuned to hear how they tackle this one.


Our thanks to the South-Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program for providing this update on PCAF Project #1032.