KCP’s 2017 “Grasslands to Wetlands: Connecting Diversity” field trip to Pine Butte Ranch near Cranbrook. Photo courtesy of Pat Morrow

Almost 50 people from the Kootenays and beyond came together in September for the 2017 KCP Fall Gathering at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook to learn and share ideas on “Grassland to Wetlands: Connecting Diversity”.

Registration for both the Friday conference and the Saturday field tour was at capacity and we thank everyone who attended for helping make this year’s Fall Gathering an outstanding success.


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Research ecologist Deb MacKillop with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations presenting.

Wildlife biologist Michael Proctor with the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project.

The Friday event included a number of enlightening 20-minute presentations followed by lively Q&A periods. Kicking off the list of high calibre guest speakers was research ecologist Deb MacKillop with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations who introduced the new B.C. guidebook describing B.C.’s revised biogeoclimatic zones that now includes classifying grasslands and wetlands. DG Blair, Executive Director of the Stewardship Centre for BC, came out from the Coast to introduce new resources that include what landowners should know about wetlands, riparian habitats and species-at-risk conservation; and Hillary Page, the Director of Science and Stewardship in B.C. for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, discussed the importance of grasslands conservation.

On the topic of collaborative advantages, Kaslo-based wildlife biologist Michael Proctor — one of the world’s leading experts on grizzly bears — gave a fascinating talk on the incredible success of the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project and key corridors for conservation. Another amazing example of a conservation achievement was presented by Marcy Mahr and Sally Hammond with the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society, who explained the community- and ecosystem-based conservation framework that led to the identification of the “Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor” between Slocan and Summit lakes, which includes the Bonanza Marsh in Hills recently purchased as a nature reserve by the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology and Social Justice.

Daytime presentations culminated with the KCP Conservation Cafe, whereby participants grouped together according to whatever burning conservation issues they desired to tackle, and the ensuing brainstorming sessions were then shared, relating to topics such as identifying regional wildlife corridors, the impacts of non-motorized access, stormwater issues in river and lake systems, and adapting to climate change.

The KCP Conversation Cafe.

Evening presentations featuring “Amazing Corridors in the Kootenays” were delivered by Richard Klafki, the recently appointed Canadian Rocky Mountains Program Director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Chris Bosman, the Kootenay Conservation Land Manager for The Nature Trust of British Columbia.

Topping off the evening was the first B.C. screening of the stunning 21-minute documentary On the Shoulders of Giants about the value of private land conservation to Montana’s landscape, economy and way of life.

On Saturday morning, field tour participants headed to two conservation sites near Cranbrook: the Cherry Bummers Conservation Area and Pine Butte Ranch.

The Nature Trust of BC Kootenay Conservation Land Manager Chris Bosman (centre) with wetlands restoration experts Robin Annischild and Tom Biebighauser. Photo courtesy of Pat Morrow

At the Cherry Bummers Conservation Area, engaging talks on wetlands restoration and construction were given by wetlands restoration experts Tom Biebighauser and Robin Annischild, and tour participants were able to witness several new wetlands sites at various stages of construction.

At the Pine Butte Ranch, Richard Klafki and Hillary Page shared how the ranch was one of NCC’s most prized properties in Canada, and Tasha Sargent with the Canadian Wildlife Service explained various funding resources that were available to protect habitats and species-at-risk in region.

Hillary Page (right) and Richard Klafki with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Photo courtesy of Pat Morrow

The KCP is extremely grateful to our program funders and supporters: Columbia Basin Trust, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program – Columbia, Environment Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Parks Canada, The Nature Trust of BC and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

We also thank our meal sponsors for the event: FortisBC, Teck, Keefer Ecological Services Ltd. and Lotic Environmental.


Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, Cranbrook

DAY 2 (morning): 2017 KCP FALL GATHERING

Cherry Bummers Conservation Area — Photos courtesy of Pat Morrow

DAY 2 (afternoon): 2017 KCP FALL GATHERING

Pine Butte Ranch — Photos courtesy of Pat Morrow