Allana Oestreich is a senior habitat biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development based out of the Cranbrook office. With the provincial government’s conservation lands portfolio for the East Kootenay region as one of her core deliveries, Allana works closely with local land trusts, stakeholders, and other landscape level projects to achieve the greatest conservation value overall.
“We’re trying to get that landscape conservation benefit where a number of or properties are linked,” she said. “Where we have NGOs and government with linked conservation lands, we want to provide this landscape level management objectives with a conservation focus for broader benefit.”
Originally from Grasmere in the East Kootenay, Allana has a degree in environmental science and wildlife range management from the University of Alberta. Prior to starting her current role in 2013, she was an outdoor guide for almost 25 yeas and owned her own guiding business that brought her all over B.C., Alberta, down into the U.S., and up into the Northwest Territories. Through being raised on the land and backcountry adventures, she became intimately familiar with being on the landscapes and understanding the ecosystems around us.
“I think that’s what gives me the ability to balance uses on the land, specifically our conservation lands, because I’ve been out on the land so long and I’ve seen different types of uses and the needs,” Allana said. “Having the familiarity and seeing the diversity on the land is probably the biggest asset when dealing with land management and stakeholders, having that perspective and understanding. This along with working with a diverse team of passionate folks, which helps bring multiple perspectives to projects. Seeking input from our team ensures we’ve considered many aspects of how certain land uses impact different resource values.”
Components of her conservation land management approach include general operations and maintenance, habitat restoration, access and recreational management for healthy functioning ecosystems. Recently her work has aligned with the Kootenay Connect wildlife corridor project in the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area (CWWMA); with the Nature Trust of BC (NTBC) on the Big Ranch conservation property in the Elk Valley; with NTBC and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) on the Wycliffe Conservation Complex outside of Cranbrook; and with NCC and NTBC on the East Side Columbia Lake WMA.
“These are all areas where we have bordering boundaries where to gain that broader conservation benefit, we’re working together on a landscape level,” Allana said. “Still with some different initiatives but really with all the partners having a conservation focus.”
Citing the example of an invasive plant treatment she was overseeing on a property, Allana realized that by aligning with neighbouring land managers, the optimum conservation benefit would be realized in a more coordinated fashion to achieve the broader benefit.
“Specifically with neighbours who have a conservation focus we’ve definitely overcome and learned to manage through the nuances,” Allana said. “When conservation is your objective, it’s easy to overcome the smaller hurdles.”