Tue, 24 Apr 2018
Tags: Wildlife

Fisher Habitat Extension Program wins Silver Award

Rich Weir is awarded the Silver Award by HCTF Board member Don Wilkins

HCTF project leader Rich Weir has been awarded the HCTF Silver Award for the Fisher Habitat Conservation Provincial Extension Program. This extension project has made great strides in increasing forest managers’ awareness of fishers and their habitat needs.

“Forest management has the single largest human-caused effect on the sustainability of fisher habitat in British Columbia,” says Weir, who is a carnivore conservation specialist with BC’s Ministry of Environment. “It accounts for over 120,000 ha of habitat changes within the range of fishers each year. Fortunately, opportunities exist during all phases of forest management to incorporate decisions that may positively affect the supply of habitats for fishers.”

The program organizes forest planning workshops for licensees, government regulators, and contractors working in areas where fishers live. Workshop participants learn how to identify fisher habitat and how they can help meet habitat retention targets within their operations. The program has also developed information and tools for timber cruising crews, layout personnel, operational foresters, machine operators, and others who make fine-scale forest management decisions that affect the future supply of habitat for fishers. Learning resources and tools are available on the program’s website at https://www.bcfisherhabitat.ca/

The Silver Award was created in 2006 in honour of HCTF’s 25th anniversary and in recognition of the contributions of long-time manager, Rod Silver. It is awarded to projects that have truly made a difference for conservation in BC and that best exemplify the work of the Foundation.

Wed, 16 Aug 2017

Photos of Englishman River Estuary Restoration

We love to receive photos of our grant recipients’ conservation projects, and the Vancouver Island Conservation Lands Management Program (VICLMP), in conjunction with The Nature Trust of BC, has been doing a fantastic job of capturing and sharing their progress in restoring the Englishman River Estuary in Parksville, BC. Thanks to Tom Reid, VICLMP Manager, for these images.

Day 1: Removing the remnant roadway that bisected the estuary.

Day 2: Road removal continues

Day 3: 1500 cubic metres of fill removed…

Resulting in water flowing through this area of the Englishman Estuary for the first time in over 50 years!

The next day, the first new occupants are already moving in.

By the end of day 4, the team has removed 2500m3 of fill.

Day 5: An early start, but more than half way there.

Shorebirds come to check out the newly restored area:

Week 2: Placement of large woody debris for fish habitat and connecting the channels.

By the end of week 2, 3500 cubic metres of fill had been removed, channels connected, and fish habitat structures installed. Great job!

You can read more about the Englishman River Estuary Restoration Project here, or follow VICLMP on twitter for more updates on this project.

Tue, 30 May 2017

BC Fisher Habitat Website

The BC Fisher Habitat Working Group has just launched a new website to assist BC forest licensees and their contractors to identify and retain important fisher habitat.

The site allows forest practitioners to download information and tools specific to their location and operational focus. The site includes:

– spatial data that lets planning foresters identify habitats and retention targets for harvested areas

– pictorial guides to help on-the-ground field crews identify trees and other habitats important to fishers, and

– field guides to help operational staff retain fisher habitat in their day-to-day activities.

The web site is also designed for use by trappers, First Nations, and other people who are interested in learning more about fisher conservation.

Visit the BC Fisher Habitat Website

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is proud to be a major funder of this extension project.

Wed, 26 Oct 2016
Tags: Wildlife

HCTF Visits the Cariboo

Project leaders Jim Young (far right), Ordell Steen (second from right) and their work crew pose for a photo with HCTF Biologist Kathryn Martell.

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 late September HCTF staff biologist Kathryn Martell and financial officer Katelynn Sander travelled to Williams Lake to conduct evaluations on two projects. The first was the Fisher Artificial Reproductive Den Box Study led by Larry Davis of Davis Environmental Ltd.

Fishers are a threatened species in British Columbia and are also the largest obligate tree-cavity user in North America. They typically use cavities in large diameter trees both for resting in winter, and as reproductive dens. Suitable den trees are rare in the landscape and impacts in many areas of the province have further reduced the availability of this habitat feature. Larry’s project seeks to determine if fishers will use artificial (man-made) den boxes for reproductive dens, as a way to augment denning habitat in areas where natural den trees have been reduced.

This year of the study continued the monitoring efforts on the 56 den boxes installed during this project. Larry has been successful in attracting fishers to 50% of the den boxes, using them for resting, and more den boxes are being used for reproduction each year.

Biologist Larry Davis readies the ladder for inspection of one of the den boxes.

HCTF Finance Officer Katelynn Sander peers into the den box.

Nothing inside this one...

Close-up of the exterior of the den box.

HCTF biologist Kathryn Martell and Larry Davis pose for a photo after putting the ladder away.

The second project staff explored was the High Lake Grassland and Open Forest Restoration Pilot, led by the Friends of Churn Creek Protected Area Society. The goal of this project is to restore approximately 80 ha of mixed open grassland and dry, open forest habitats which have been degraded by tree encroachment and ingrowth in Churn Creek Protected Area (CCPA). The project is also designed as a pilot to evaluate an approach for encroachment and ingrowth removal that does not require broadcast burning. Logistical constraints restrict using broadcast burning in High Lake and other parts of CCPA, and many of the young trees are already too large to be killed using this technique. Rather, in this pilot, stems are slashed and piled and the piles burned in winter.

Churn_Creek_view.jpg

The project area is within important mule deer range and is located on a designated no-grazing benchmark within the CCPA. Fixed plots have been established to document pre-treatment tree cover, undergrowth vegetation, and mule deer use and measure changes following restoration treatments. Much of the tree encroachment and ingrowth on the project area consists of relatively large (> 4 m tall), often dense (closed or moderately closed canopy) stems.

Tree encroachment was felled and piled by a Stswecem’c-Xgat’tem First Nation crew. Felling on 51 ha (72%) of the encroached grasslands was completed in the summer of 2015, and they were nearly finished when the HCTF team visited in September 2016. Burning the piles is set to take place this winter. You can already see a dramatic difference on this landscape as encroachment areas are being opened up and restored to dry grassland and open forest. This piloted approach has the potential for significant habitat enhancement, in the Churn Creek Protected Area and elsewhere.

Katelynn stands next to a pile of slashed trees that will be burned in winter.

The slashing helps open up the grasslands, mimicking the historical fire regime and improving habitat for wildlife.

 

HCTF would like to extend a big thank you to the Friends of Churn Creek Protected Area Society, the Stswecem’c-Xgat’tem First Nation crew, and Larry Davis for taking the time to explain the projects and show HCTF around their sites. We were impressed with how well managed and implemented both projects were, and it was great to meet the passionate individuals who are making this happen.

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.

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. ?