The Kootenay Conservation Program announced the recipients of its annual Conservation Leadership Awards on Friday, September 23 as part of the 2022 KCP 20th Anniversary Fall Gathering that took place in Creston.

For the West Kootenays, the 2022 recipient is Norm Allard with the Lower Kootenay Band who received a framed photograph of the Creston Wetlands by Marc-Andre Beaucher. For the East Kootenay, the 2022 honours go to Randy Harris with the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council, who received a framed Pat Morrow photograph.

East Kootenay

RANDY HARRIS is a Registered Professional Forester who worked for the BC Government from 1976 to 2015 in 25 different postings for Parks Branch, Forest Service and Ministry of Environment. Starting in 2007, he led the innovative Rocky Mountain Tench Ecosystem Restoration Program (ER) in the East Kootenays for over ten years. As the team lead, Randy worked with multiple agencies in all levels of government, First Nations, industry and NGOs to deliver an award-winning program that continues to benefit our region. When he retired from the provincial government in 2015, the ER program had 30 partners and was viewed as a model around the province and beyond.

Since retiring, Randy has continued to be deeply engaged with ER activities, providing expert knowledge on treatment history throughout the Trench and working with Ktunaxa communities to further fuel reductions and habitat enhancement. 

Randy has been on the Board of Directors for the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council (EKISC) since 2015, and has Chaired the board for the past several years. In this role, Randy has provided stability and leadership to the critical work of controlling invasive species throughout the region. As a consultant for the Cranbrook Community Forest (CCF), he readily shares his extensive and thorough knowledge of forest health, conducting tours of the CFF with politicians, the general public, college students and researchers.

Randy readily recognizes and fosters the advantage of partnership and collaboration to advancing conservation efforts. He is a strong advocate for ecosystem enhancement and research that will benefit all stewards across the land, and leads by example in showing that if multiple organizations work together for the land, incredible outcomes can occur. He is the first to support a conservation effort and you will see him attending most conservation events in his spare time.  

Randy has been involved in restoring and conserving thousands of hectares of grassland ecosystems and other natural resource ecosystems in the Rocky Mountain Trench of the East Kootenays and abroad, as a government employee, a private consultant and a volunteer. 

West Kootenay

NORM ALLARD has been the Community Planner with the Lower Kootenay Band since 2013, a position which includes various conservation aspects including his current wetland restoration projects. 

Norm identified the need and opportunity to restore historically modified wetlands on the Lower Kootenay Band lands near Creston. He showed innovation in his use of GIS tools and historical aerial photographs to map and re-envision these historical wetland systems.

He subsequently led the effort to secure resources for, and has overseen delivery of, the 517 ha wetland restoration effort that is currently ongoing, known as the Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands Restoration Project. The amount of work that has been accomplished on this project is outstanding and the benefits to the wetlands are already becoming evident. Positive results from the restoration work to date include the return of sandhill cranes that are successfully breeding, an increase in Western Painted Turtles, and more ducks and migratory birds.

Norm’s humble and curious attitude, great sense of humour, and generous nature creates a welcoming atmosphere for developing partnerships and sharing expertise. He has contributed enormous amounts of time to hosting numerous tours of the Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands Restoration Project and sharing the knowledge he has gained. Norm also served on the board of the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society as well as the Kootenay Conservation Program.

By implementing a major conservation project in the context of First Nations knowledge, practices and language, he is showing that restoring habitat can simultaneously restore and rebuild First Nations culture and capacity. Norm has made a major contribution to local conservation by demonstrating the inter-connected nature of ecological restoration and the revitalization of Indigenous culture.