Annual Report 2022 – 20232023-11-06T12:48:28-07:00

Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP)

Annual Report
2022/23

Message from the Chair

The 2022/23 year marked Kootenay Conservation Program’s 20th year of collaborative work in the Kootenay region and provided an opportunity for KCP to both focus on supporting and achieving the partnership’s shared conservation objectives and celebrate its accomplishments over the last two decades. The culmination of this celebration was realized at KCP’s annual Fall Gathering, enthusiastically held in Creston, as our first in-person Fall Gathering and field tour since 2019. Highlights of 2022/23 include:

  • Delivering year four of the federal Environment and Climate Change Canada Nature Fund Kootenay Connect project in four priority areas in the Kootenays: Creston Valley, Columbia Wetlands, Wycliffe Corridor, and Bonanza Corridor

  • Supporting the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) in successfully expanding the Local Conservation Fund service to RDCK Electoral Area H (Slocan Valley)
  • Facilitating the South Selkirks – Lower Columbia Conservation Action Forum in partnership with Okanagan Nation Alliance and Trail Wildlife Association
  • Updating the KCP candidate property ranking matrix to reflect current landscape science, climate change and updated BEC zones
  • Continuing the coordination of land securement amongst land trust organizations in the region with two properties acquired through this collaborative approach
  • Hosting a 7-part webinar series on the theme of “Foundations of Resilience: Understanding departures from historical ecosystems and adapting for resilient futures” in partnership with the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology
  • Hosting a Conservation Ambassador Training Spring Tune-up “refresher” to support peer-based learning for private land and water stewardship
  • Hosting an annual Fall Gathering and field tour, highlighting successes of the KCP partnership over the last 20 years and visiting the Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands and Frog-Bear Conservation Corridor
  • Ongoing improvement and promotion of the Stewardship Solutions Toolkit for landowner outreach materials
  • Hosting hybrid East and West Kootenay Spring Stewardship Committee meetings and field tours to the Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor and Queen Victoria Mine area
  • Administration and delivery of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF) with over $133,000 awarded to 9 local conservation projects

  • Administration and delivery of the RDCK (previously Kootenay Lake) Local Conservation Fund with $67,000 awarded to 6 local conservation projects

  • Delivering delegations to the RDCK Board of Directors, the City of Nelson, and the Villages of New Denver, Silverton and Slocan Mayor and Council regarding successes of the Local Conservation Fund service and its potential expansion

Myself, on behalf of the KCP Board and partnership, would also like to acknowledge and thank the KCP team (Juliet Craig, Marcy Mahr, Nicole Trigg, Kendal Benesh, and Megan Jamison) for their ongoing dedication, passion, and the professionalism to which they approach their roles and the collective work of KCP. As KCP’s outgoing Communications Manager, Nicole Trigg was fundamental in growing KCP communications over the last six years, including developing the Stewardship Solutions Toolkit, redesigning the KCP website, boosting webinar attendance, producing incredible monthly e-News, and introducing KCP to the world of social media. We wish Nicole all the best in her role with Living Lakes Canada.

And as always, KCP’s vision would not be achieved without the continued support of our funding partners, for whom we are extremely grateful. We also sincerely appreciate The Nature Trust of BC for their ongoing support as KCP’s fiscal sponsor, another contribution critical to the partnership’s success.

Derek Petersen

Chair, Kootenay Conservation Program

Message from the Program Director

2022/23 was a successful and milestone year for KCP as we celebrated 20 years of partnership advancing stewardship and securement as well as maintaining a strong network. We sincerely appreciate our partner organization’s contributions to the success of KCP this year including hosting and participating in the 20 Year Fall Gathering to showcase your on-the-ground efforts, collaborating on landscape linkage corridors and biodiversity hotspots with ‘Kootenay Connect’, coming together in collaboration to identify shared priorities in the South Selkirks – Lower Columbia region, creating incredible short videos of your “stewardship solutions” and local conservation projects for KCP’s online hub, maintaining a coordinated approach to securing the most important conservation lands possible, and contributing your success stories to our monthly e-newsletter.

I am particularly appreciative to our Board who tirelessly dedicated their time to offer experience and insights into the direction of the program. I am particularly grateful to the KCP team whose energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills contribute immensely to the success of the program. Marcy Mahr continued to bring her decades of ecology experience to the role of Kootenay Connect Manager and Stewardship Coordinator; Nicole Trigg brought vast experience to her position as Communications Manager and ended her time with KCP to move on to other opportunities; Kendal Benesh held the many threads of the program together as Program Assistant; and Megan Jamison began her role as Communications Coordinator.

Last, but certainly not least, we are extremely grateful to our funding partners this year without whom we could not maintain a successful and productive partnership: Columbia Basin Trust, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Environment and Climate Change Canada, The Nature Trust of BC, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Regional District of Central Kootenay, and Regional District of East Kootenay.

Thank you for your continued support!

Juliet Craig, Program Director

KCP Team

Read more about our talented team.

  • Juliet Craig
    KCP Program Director

  • Marcy Mahr
    Kootenay Connect and Stewardship Manager

  • Kendal Benesh
    Local Conservation Fund Coordinator and Program Assistant

  • Nicole Trigg
    Communications Manager (outgoing)

  • Megan Jamison
    Communications Coordinator (incoming)

Land Acknowledgement

Kootenay Conservation Program respectfully acknowledges that we live and work in the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwépemc, Sinixt, and Syilx Okanagan peoples who have stewarded this land since time immemorial. We are honoured to live in this place and are committed to reconciliation, decolonization and building relationships in our partnership and our communities.

About KCP

The Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia is a unique landscape of global ecological significance. This region still functions as a natural ecosystem with a full complement of ungulates and carnivores and is home to a variety of both common and rare or endangered plants, wildlife and fish species.

However, human pressures and climate change continue to threaten wildlife habitat and rare ecosystems, impair wildlife movement corridors, and contribute to the loss of biodiversity. Important habitats exist throughout the Kootenays, but the valley bottoms have the richest diversity of habitats and biodiversity values. Many of these important habitats are located on private land. There remains a viable opportunity to conduct private land securement and stewardship activities in the Kootenays that conserves and enhances these lands and provides critical landscape linkages in the face of climate change.

The foundation of the KCP partnership is a common approach to land conservation, achieved through the following strategic priorities:

  • 1

    Increase the effectiveness, collaboration and coordination of private land securement.

  • 2

    Increase the effectiveness and coordination of stewardship activities taking place on private lands.

  • 3

    Build and provide technical, financial and internal capacity for KCP and partner organizations to undertake securement and stewardship activities.

  • 4

    Strengthen the network of conservation organizations through communications to achieve efficiencies, synergies and ultimately greater effectiveness.

2022/23 KCP Board

  • Derek Petersen
    Parks Canada

  • Ian Adams
    Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

  • Suzanne Bayley
    Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners

  • Dave DeRosa (Interim)
    Okanagan Nation Alliance

  • Rick Hoar
    East Kootenay Wildlife Association

  • Adrian Leslie
    Nature Conservancy of Canada

  • Joe Strong
    The Nature Trust of BC

  • Mark Thomas (Interim)
    Shuswap Band

  • Ivy Whitehorne
    Canadian Wildlife Service

Goal 1 – Securement

Increase the effectiveness, collaboration and coordination of private land securement.

World-class conservation efforts by local land trust partners have resulted in the acquisition of properties throughout the region that protect fish and wildlife, movement corridors, grasslands, old forests, and riparian areas. These properties have increased landscape-level connectivity and secured valuable habitat for species at risk.

Land Securement

Since 2002, KCP has worked with partners to conserve 82,745 hectares of private land and acquire 58 properties across the Kootenays. KCP provides coordination and collaboration by facilitating a Securement Committee that includes members from regionally active land trusts and other key organizations involved in land acquisition for conservation (e.g., provincial government, Canadian Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Ducks Unlimited Canada). Priorities for land acquisition are based on the presence of important habitats and species at risk, contribution to conserving wildlife and climate change corridors, the urgency of conservation threats, property size, management and maintenance responsibilities, and available funding.

In 2022/23, KCP continued to coordinate communication between land trusts in the region. We also updated our ranking criteria by integrating the latest science of climate change and landscape connectivity and used it to assess candidate properties within a larger ecological context. KCP tracked and responded to seven land securement inquiries from KCP partner organizations or directly from interested landowners and undertook three property evaluations. We are excited by the recent acquisitions of the Bonanza Marsh Conservation Area by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Columbia Lake North – Wetlands Conservation Area by The Nature Trust of BC.

Mature Cedar Forest of Bonanza Marsh | Credit Marcy Mahr

Bonanza Marsh Conservation Area
West Kootenay
Nature Conservancy Canada

Located on the northern shore of Slocan Lake and in the traditional territories of the Sinixt, Secwépemc, Syilx, and Ktunaxa Nations, this 4.95-hectare (12 acre) conservation property is part of a larger wetland complex is protecting an abundance of biodiversity. The Bonanza Marsh Conservation Area includes a portion of Bonanza Creek at its confluence with Slocan Lake that provides safe passage for Kokanee salmon to reach their spawning habitat. The area also provides important stopover habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl and habitat connectivity for grizzly bears and other mammals, as well as contributing to the water quality and ecological health of the Slocan Lake watershed. This new conservation property is the southern anchor of the Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor, one of Kootenay Connect’s priority places.

Great Blue Heron | Credit Julian Zelazny | Nature Trust BC

Columbia Lake North – Wetlands
East Kootenay
The Nature Trust of BC

Located near the north end of Columbia Lake and within the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa and Secwépemc Nations, this 66.9-hectare (165 acre) property contains a rare riparian wetland complex of open water, marsh, and swamp wetlands. This property is just 1-km southeast of NTBC’s Hoodoos Conservation Area and is directly adjacent to the East Side Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Area, increasing the resilience and connectivity of the area. Columbia Lake North – Wetlands is within the very dry and cool Interior Douglas-fir zone – a biogeoclimatic zone of conservation concern – and protects staging areas for waterfowl, winter range for ungulates, and provides sanctuary for numerous species at risk including great blue heron, American badger, barn swallow, common nighthawk, California gull and western painted turtle. The property is also within a Kootenay Connect movement corridor important for grizzly bear, elk, and wolverine.

The Nature Trust of BC and Nature Conservancy of Canada acquired 71.4 ha of conservation land in 2022/23

Goal 2 – Stewardship

Increase the effectiveness and coordination of stewardship activities taking place on private lands.

The goal of the KCP stewardship initiative is to increase the effectiveness and coordination of stewardship activities taking place on private land. This initiative is guided by the KCP Stewardship Framework.

East Kootenay Stewardship Committee field tour to Wycliffe. Credit Michelle Daniel.

Spring Meetings & Field Tours

In June 2022, KCP hosted hybrid-style East and West Spring Stewardship Committee meetings and field tours. In the East Kootenay, 13 partners gathered in Cranbrook or remotely to share updates on local stewardship activities and identify areas of potential collaboration, discuss results and provide input on KCP’s stewardship activities, learn about new findings from KCP’s Kootenay Connect Priority Places project, and have a group discussion on trending stewardship topics. The meeting was followed by an afternoon field tour of the Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor to discuss wildlife-friendly fencing and habitat restoration for at-risk species. In the West Kootenay, 16 partners gathered in Nelson or remotely, followed by an afternoon field tour to the Queen Victoria Mine area to discuss active bat conservation efforts in the area and view artificial roosting structures. KCP’s Stewardship Committee meetings increase collaboration and awareness around the many stewardship initiatives taking place within Kootenay Conservation Program’s service area.

Neighbourhood Conservation Action Forums

In November 2022, KCP hosted its eighth and largest Conservation Action Forum focused on the South Selkirks – Lower Columbia area in partnership with Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Trail Wildlife Association. This full-day workshop in Trail connected 38 people from 30 organizations, bringing together Indigenous representatives, researchers, land managers, stewardship organizations, local industry, government representatives, and other partners.

The Forum included speed presentations by researchers to share new information and key recommendations for conservation in the area. Afternoon break-out sessions identified priority actions under themes deemed most relevant and likely to succeed by participants. Five priority actions were collectively generated and incorporated objectives and activities that align with participants’ organizational and programmatic interests. All participants, as well as those people who were invited but could not attend the actual Forum, were provided with the Forum’s findings, and will be encouraged to pursue these priority actions as they are able.

The Forum resulted in the following five Priority Action Plans (not ranked):

  • Develop and protect native seed sources for focal plant species
  • Identify, protect, and build resiliency in key habitats that support local biodiversity and species at risk
  • Build community support and capacity for prescribed fire
  • Prevent, eradicate, and manage invasive species using best management practice
  • Take a landscape approach to identifying and conserving priority ecological corridors for terrestrial and aquatic connectivity

KCP continues to track the progress of actions identified during previous Forums. Of the 40 Priority Actions identified across the first seven KCP Conservation Action Forums, 39 (97.5%) were either completed or were actively being pursued as of December 31, 2022!

Kootenay Connect Priority Places

In 2022/23, KCP successfully administered Year 4 of Kootenay Connect, funded through an Environment and Climate Change Canada Nature Fund grant that focuses on four priority places: Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor (north of New Denver), Creston Valley, Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor (north of Cranbrook), and the Columbia Valley Wetlands. Through this project, 35 KCP Partners including stewardship groups, land trusts, science and technical consultants, and species recovery teams are actively working together to enhance and restore habitat for species at risk in these four biodiversity hotspots in the Kootenays. Restoration and enhancement efforts targeted improving and protecting a broad spectrum of habitat types such as native grasslands, rich wetlands, cottonwood riparian areas, and mature cedar-hemlock forests that support species at risk. Kootenay Connect Priority Places aims to enhance, restore, and manage these important valley bottom habitats to support the recovery of 34 federally listed species at risk and 40 species of local concern, as well as providing important linkages between these diverse habitats that are critical for maintaining healthy populations and functioning ecosystems.

Over the past four years, over 50 sub-projects have completed important conservation work, including species at risk inventories; creation of new wetland community maps; improvement of wetland, riparian, dry forest and grassland habitats; installation/construction of habitat features such as basking logs for turtles, beaver dam analogues, and artificial roosting structures for bats; applications for Wildlife Habitat Area and Wildlife Habitat Feature designations on public land; planting of native vegetation and invasives species management; and installation of wildlife-friendly fencing.

CONSTRUCTING A BEAVER DAM ANALOGUE IN THE COLUMBIA WETLANDS – PHOTO BY COLUMBIA WETLANDS STEWARDSHIP PARTNERS

BrandenBark and natural bark roosting structures for bats – Photo by Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada

Elk leaping over fence at Wycliffe Conservation Complex – Photo by The Nature Trust of BC

Some accomplishments of Kootenay Connect to date include:

Given its success and conservation impact, $1.95M in additional funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada for Kootenay Connect Priority Places will extend the project for three more years (until 2026) and will expand the geographic scope to include three new focal areas: the Slocan River Valley, Duncan-Lardeau Valley and Columbia Lake.

In 2022/23, 24 KCP Partners and specialists including stewardship groups, land trusts, science and technical consultants, and recovery teams worked on 18 sub-projects to support the recovery of 74 species at risk in four priority areas

Stewardship Solutions Toolkit

The KCP Stewardship Solutions Toolkit serves as a central hub for Kootenay-based resources that address stewardship issues on private land. This toolkit is organized by Conservation Neighbourhood and is designed as a one-stop shop for private landowners interested in stewardship options for their property and as a resource for stewardship practitioners, local government planners and other service providers. The diversity of services includes information, tools, incentives, services, learning opportunities, and/or funding for stewardship activities focussing on such topics as wildlife, species at risk, invasive plants, water quantity and quality, forest and grassland ecology, fire interface management, and habitat restoration.

This year, the Stewardship Solutions Toolkit website has served to be an important resource:

650 people
1,000 sessions
1,899 page views

Conservation Ambassador Training “Spring Tune-up”

Building on the success of last year’s Conservation Ambassador Training (CAT) Program, KCP hosted a CAT “Spring Tune-up” based on the Stewardship Solutions Toolkit. This three-part training series was attended by 15 participants and provided interested individuals or organizations with the key information, messages, and source materials they need to effectively communicate with private landowners on how they can be better stewards of plants, fish, wildlife, and their habitats. Participants included representatives from Indigenous Nations, stewardship groups, and provincial and local governments. In a post-event survey, 94% of survey respondents said they found more value in the Stewardship Solutions Toolkit after completing the modules, and 94% will refer to the toolkit as part of their landowner outreach work.

Goal 3 – Capacity

Build and provide technical, financial and internal capacity for KCP and partner organizations to undertake securement and stewardship activities.

KCP recognizes that in order to achieve stewardship and securement goals, organizations require capacity – both technical in the form of knowledge and financial in the form of funding. To achieve this, KCP provides a venue for partners to share technical knowledge and skills that allow for the latest science and best practices to be applied on the ground. As well, by working with local governments, KCP has increased the financial capacity of organizations through the Columbia Valley and RDCK Local Conservation Funds.

Webinar Series

KCP offers a webinar series each year to facilitate sharing of technical resources among partners and others so that local conservation activities consider the best available information and practices. The webinar series in 2023 was co-hosted with the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology under the theme of “Foundations of Resilience: Understanding departures from historical ecosystems and adapting for resilient futures. The seven-part webinar series included the following presentations:

 

All webinars from 2023 and previous years were recorded and are all available on the KCP website.

The 2023 Winter Webinar Series had an average of 109 attendees per webinar, which represents an increase of roughly 400% in attendance since 2017.

  • How the past haunts our future: Colonization and the loss of dry forest resilience in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia with Dr. Gregory Greene, University of British Columbia
  • Emerging landscape novelty with Dr. Eric Higgs, University of Victoria and Dr. Jeanine Rhemtulla, University of British Columbia
  • Re-introducing fire as a process: Restoring disrupted fire regimes across landscapes with Jen Baron, University of British Columbia
  • Prescribed fire and adapting for resilient futures with Robert W. Gray, Wildland Fire Ecologist; Colleen Ross, Wildland Fire Ecologist; Kiah Allen, BC Wildfire Service; and Dr. Carley Phillips, University of Victoria
  • Cultural burning with Joe Gilchrist, Interior Salish Fire Keepers Society
  • Climate adaptation in action in the Harrop – Procter Community Forest with Erik Leslie, Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative
  • Tales of taking evidence through to conservation action for two iconic mountain dwellers: caribou and grizzly bear with Clayton Lamb, Universities of British Columbia and Montana

Technical Planning Workshop

KCP also co-hosted a Technical Project Planning Workshop with the Columbia Basin Trust designed for those applying to the Trust’s Climate Resilience Program, Ecosystem Enhancement Program, or other land-based programs. Over 40 people attended to learn about and share knowledge on the key aspects, processes and deliverables (e.g., scope, budget, schedule, measurables, and evaluation) of a successful large multi-year project using real-life examples.

Local Conservation Funds

Since 2008, the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF) has invested nearly $2.7M in over one hundred securement and stewardship projects which address local priorities including ecosystem restoration, invasive species control and lake stewardship. This critical funding has helped leverage an additional $23M in conservation investments in the local area. In 2022, CVLCF funding was awarded to nine stewardship projects that together received over $133,000: riparian area enhancement on farms, water monitoring on Columbia Lake and Lake Windermere, wetland restoration, bat roost habitat enhancement, swallow habitat enhancement, conservation of biodiversity in the Columbia Wetlands, working with farmers to support wild sheep conservation, and invasive plant control.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay (previously called the Kootenay Lake) Local Conservation Fund (RDCK LCF) was established in 2014, and since then, has invested almost $535,000 in local securement and stewardship projects and has leveraged over $20M which includes two securement acquisitions. In 2022, RDCK LCF funding was awarded to six projects that together received $67,000 including: grizzly bear conflict reduction, community monitoring and removal of aquatic invasive species, western toad road mortality mitigation, water monitoring, wetland restoration, beaver habitat restoration, and bat roost habitat enhancement.

In 2022, $200,000 was distributed through the Columbia Valley and RDCK Local Conservation Funds to 15 high-priority stewardship projects

Columbia Lake Stewardship Society Weed Pull 2022. Photo Credit: CLSS

Plant Salvage at Harrop Wetland. Photo Credit: Kayla Tillapaugh

Kootenay Watershed Science water monitoring. Photo Credit: LLC.

On-sight Meeting at Marion Creek Benchlands Restoration Site. Photo Credit: NCC

Local Conservation Fund Expansion

In 2022/23, KCP worked with the RDCK to support the Local Conservation Fund expansion process in RDCK Electoral Area H (Slocan Valley) through information sharing, public outreach, and highlighting the benefits of the Local Conservation Fund service. The service passed via referendum in October 2022 by 66%, expanding the service to the Slocan Valley and demonstrating residents’ commitment to conservation in the region. This was an exciting achievement that will bring further financial capacity to local conservation projects in the area. KCP also presented delegations to Nelson City Council, the RDCK Board, and the Villages of New Denver, Silverton and Slocan to encourage municipalities to join this service.

In RDCK Electoral Area H, the Local Conservation Fund service passed by 66% via referendum in October 2022, expanding the service to the Slocan Valley.

Goal 4 – Network

Strengthen the network of conservation organizations through communications to achieve efficiencies, synergies and ultimately greater effectiveness.

KCP continues to foster a strong network of conservation and stewardship organizations to identify synergies and ultimately greater effectiveness by working together. Gatherings, communications, and recognizing leadership contribute to this effective network.

Annual Fall Gathering and AGM

The KCP annual Fall Gathering & AGM serves as one of the primary opportunities to connect and re-connect KCP partners from across the region. In September 2022, we were delighted to offer our first in-person Fall Gathering since 2019. Approximately 40 individuals from 30 organizations attended the event in Creston on the theme of “Celebrating 20 Years of Conservation Partnership,” highlighting the many successes of the KCP partnership over the last two decades. The event included a panel discussion on the theme “Facing Forward: Solutions for Embracing Change” featuring Dr. Greg Greene (University of British Columbia), Valerie Huff (Kootenay Native Plant Society) and Dave Zehnder (Farmland Advantage) and plenary speaker Nancy Newhouse (Nature Conservancy of Canada). On day two, we visited the Yaqan Nukiy Wetland Restoration area hosted by Norm Allard (Yaqan Nukiy), and the Frog-Bear Kootenay Connect Corridor hosted by Marc-Andre Beaucher (Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area).

Network News

KCP stays connected with partner organizations by maintaining a central hub of conservation news and resources through our website and monthly e-newsletter. Our e-News is distributed to over 1,300 recipients across the region and continues to feature our monthly “Faces & Places” spotlight to showcase KCP partners and their current projects and innovations. The KCP Facebook page, which has grown to 1,028 followers, is an effective channel for promoting KCP partner events and initiatives to a Kootenay-wide online audience. KCP also has an active YouTube channel and Instagram account, which continue to grow in followers.

KCP also regularly maintains and updates our website, which includes a Conservation Resource webpage focusing on content unique to the Columbia Basin.

Celebrating Conservation Leadership

Each year, KCP awards a Conservation Leadership Award as a way to showcase some of the outstanding work being done in conservation in our region. The recipients of the 2022 awards were Norman Allard (Yaqan Nukiy) and Randy Harris (Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society and East Kootenay Invasive Species Council).

Norman Allard has been the Community Planner with the Yaqan Nukiy (Lower Kootenay Band) since 2013, when he identified the need and opportunity to restore historically modified wetlands on the Lower Kootenay Band lands near Creston. Norm showed innovation in his use of GIS tools and historical aerial photographs to map and re-envision these historical wetland systems and subsequently led the effort to initiate and oversee 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, including the return of breeding Sandhill Cranes, an increase in Western Painted Turtles, and more ducks and migratory birds. 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 interconnected nature of ecological restoration and the revitalization of Indigenous culture.

Randy Harris is a Registered Professional Forester who worked for the BC Government from 1976 to 2015. Starting in 2007, he led the innovative Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program (ER) in the East Kootenays for over ten years. 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 readily recognizes and fosters the advantage of partnership and collaboration to advance 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.

Our Funders

Go to Top