The Kootenay Conservation Program announced the recipients of its annual Conservation Leadership Awards on Friday, October 13 as part of the 2023 ‘KCP Fall Gathering: Kootenay Connect Summit’ that took place in Cranbrook.

For the West Kootenay, the 2023 recipient is Marc-André Beaucher with the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area who received a framed photograph by Lyle Grisedale of a Great Blue Heron. For the East Kootenay, the 2023 honours go to Kat Hartwig with Living Lakes Canada, who received a framed photograph of the Columbia Wetlands by Pat Morrow.

East Kootenay

Congratulations to KAT HARTWIG, Founder and Executive Director of Living Lakes Canada (LLC) for receiving the East Kootenay Conservation Leadership Award. In her former position as part of the leadership team for Wildsight, Kat played a key role in many large-scale, environmental conservation initiatives in the East Kootenay – from the campaign to fight the proposed ski resort for Jumbo Valley (a key grizzly bear and wildlife corridor located in the Purcell Mountain Range), to the removal of 300 cars that historically had been dumped into the Wilmer wetlands, to helping the Columbia Wetlands obtain its international RAMSAR Designation.

Since 2010, she has brought that same passion to her role with Living Lakes Canada, and has spearheaded the development of numerous Kootenay-wide water stewardship programs, including a community-based lake stewardship model that led to the development of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors; the East Kootenay Integrated Lakes Management Partnership (EKILMP); the Columbia Basin Foreshore Inventory and Mapping for Aquatic Species at Risk Project; the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program; the open source Columbia Basin Water Hub database; and the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework project that’s helping track and understand climate impacts on the region’s freshwater sources.

Kat has tirelessly advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous voices in water management and valuing Indigenous Knowledge in water policy and science. She’s also a passionate and empowering role model for young people and women in the water sector, with a strong desire to empower youth to make a meaningful contribution towards addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis facing their generation.

Her passion and approach have led her to be recognized with multiple awards and as someone who ‘gets things done’ in Canada’s water world. Kat’s dedication to fostering partnerships has led to countless collaborations across all sectors, influenced the highest level of government policy, and advanced conservation for the Kootenays and beyond.

West Kootenay

Congratulations to MARC-ANDRÉ BEAUCHER, Head of Conservation Programs at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA) for receiving the West Kootenay Conservation Leadership Award. Marc-André has volunteered and worked at CVWMA for nearly 20 years.

As head of conservation programs at the CVWMA, he supports a great network of staff, partner organizations, non-profits, and individuals in both hands-on and educational conservation efforts. His work encompasses a wide variety of activities ranging from wildlife monitoring, water quality assessment, water level manipulations and infrastructure management, and land and assets management. One of his favorite projects has been the recovery of Northern Leopard Frogs in the CVWMA, with which he has been involved with for over two decades.

Marc-André has worked hard to upgrade the water management infrastructure used to manage the wetland compartments and optimize wildlife use. More than half of the water controls installed in the wetland in the early- to mid-70s have been successfully replaced. Marc-André emphasizes that collaboration with partner organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited Canada, have been key to accomplishing this crucial work.

Marc-André has volunteered for numerous organizations over the years. He participates on the RDCK Local Conservation Fund Technical Review Committee and is the Board Chair for the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology.

When in the field with Marc-André, his enthusiasm for conservation and for finding and identifying birds is infectious. He started birdwatching at the age of 13 and continues to maintain a passion for the conservation of birds and their habitat. He regularly takes people and groups on field trips out in the wetland and especially loves getting people impassioned about wildlife through hands-on experiences.