RDCK Local Conservation Fund helping support local water, wildlife and habitat

By Contributor
April 1st, 2024

Submitted by Kootenay Conservation Program

Eight important conservation projects were approved last month by Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) Directors to receive funding from the RDCK Local Conservation Fund (RDCK LCF) in 2024. A local government service, the Local Conservation Fund provides dedicated funding to valuable conservation projects in Electoral Areas A, D, E, and H.

“These conservation projects will positively impact our natural environment in the Slocan Valley, and therefore improve our quality of life,” said Walter Popoff, RDCK Electoral Area H Director.

“They are of significant value for residents, as shown through the positive results of 2022’s referendum, and I look forward to seeing the on-the-ground results of the projects.”

“This year we were excited to see numerous applications for projects in the Slocan Valley, along with projects across the remainder of the service area,” said Kendal Benesh, Local Conservation Fund Coordinator for Kootenay Conservation Program, which works in partnership with the RDCK to administer the fund.

“These projects are supporting native plant and wildlife species, habitat restoration, and community initiatives in the area, and will provide tangible conservation actions in the region.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada (WCSC) will receive $22,865 for their Enhancing Bat Habitat and Monitoring Populations in the West Kootenays project.

This project will create, assess, and monitor roosting structures for bats in the Slocan and North Kootenay Lake areas, building resiliency of bat populations in the RDCK. Bats are the longest-lived and slowest reproducing of all small mammals, and are an important contributor to healthy ecosystems by providing insect control and nutrient cycling.

The RDCK LCF is supporting the BC Wildlife Federation and Slocan River Streamkeepers Society in a collaborative project on the Crooked Horn Farm in the Slocan Valley.

In Phase 2 of the project, $20,000 will help to restore and enhance 0.25 hectares of wetland habitat. Notably, the project places a strong emphasis on the conservation of species such as the Western toad, Columbia spotted frog, Western painted turtle, birds, and invertebrates, and will create shallow wetlands that can mitigate flood waters during freshet and high rain events, which are frequent in the Slocan Valley.

A new recipient of Local Conservation Funds this year is the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), which will receive $18,095 for the Creation and Protection of Anthropogenic Bat Habitat in the RDCK.

The ONA plans to create a new roost for bats (a bat condo) in the Slocan Valley, provide education and outreach including supporting citizen science and the annual bat count, update the map of all known roost locations to date in the RDCK to inform disease surveillance, monitoring, and conservation plans, and continue supporting landowners to aid in human-bat coexistence.

Another new recipient this year is Elk Root Conservation Farm Society, who will be receiving $18,000 for the Slocan Valley Pollinator Highway Project: Phase 1, to support pollinator habitat connectivity.

The organization will utilize a phased approach to create a pollinator highway, beginning in Vallican and eventually expanding. Pollinator highways offer significant benefits to wild pollinators by providing food sources such as native wildflowers for pollen and nectar, connecting otherwise fragmented habitats, and contributing to overall ecosystem function and agricultural productivity.

The Valhalla Foundation for Ecology (VFE), another new recipient this year, will be receiving $14,400 towards their Snk’mip Marsh Sanctuary Habitat Enhancement and Invasive Plant Management project.

The Snk’mip Marsh, a rare wetland in a biodiverse nature sanctuary located at the north end of Slocan Lake, contains a significant variety of native plant and animal species, including species at risk such as the Coeur d’Alene salamander and Western painted turtle. This project will directly benefit species at risk in the area by enhancing habitat and reducing the threat of invasive plants.

The Slocan Lake Stewardship Society is the recipient of $13,500 towards their North Slocan Bull Trout Conservation Project.

The population of bull trout in Slocan Lake continues to be ‘At Risk’, and the goal of this project is to protect endangered bull trout in the North Slocan from further population declines through the assessment and development of a management plan to support their recovery through defined conservation efforts.

The RDCK LCF is again supporting the Grizzly Bear Coexistence Solutions project, facilitated by the Lardeau Valley Opportunity LINKS Society, which will receive $13,800 to assist private landowners with reducing grizzly bear conflicts through a 50% cost share for electric fencing equipment to protect their livestock and/or crops from bears, and providing education and support to Kootenay Lake and Slocan Valley residents.

Finally, the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) will receive $9,316 for their project ‘Kootenay BroomBusters – A Community Led Pulling Together Program’. Scotch broom, which is identified as the top worst invasive species offender for impacts on the most species at risk in the province, is concentrated along the west arm and the main body of Kootenay Lake, although sites are scattered throughout the region, including the Slocan Valley.

The overarching goal of this project is to establish a long-term model for community-led invasive plant removal in the Central Kootenays, particularly on private land, and to empower residents to become land stewards.

The RDCK Local Conservation Fund was established by the RDCK in Areas A, D and E in 2014, and in Area H in 2022 by referendum. Property owners in these Electoral Areas pay an annual tax of $15 per parcel towards this dedicated fund, which provides financial support to local projects that help conserve and restore the area’s valuable natural surroundings.

To find out if your idea for a conservation project qualifies, or if you have questions about the fund, contact KCP Local Conservation Fund Manager Kendal Benesh at 1-844-775-2722 or email kendal@kootenayconservation.ca.

The application intake for 2025 projects will open in August 2024 and all applications must be received on or by October 31, 2024. For more information on the RDCK LCF, please visit https://kootenayconservation.ca/rdck-local-conservation-fund/.

For more information on the 2024 approved projects as well as past RDCK LCF funded projects, please visit: https://kootenayconservation.ca/rdck-local-conservation-fund-projects/.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com


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