Awarded to the Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) towards restoring the most heavily impacted and degraded habitat at the Tye town site by implementing an integrated pest management strategy, introducing biocontrol agents to deal with invasive weed species, and the planting of native shrubs and trees.

PROPONENT: Nature Conservancy of Canada

DESCRIPTION: The Darkwoods Conservation Property is a 136,000 acre (55,000 hectare) parcel of private land owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Darkwoods is the largest private conservation property in Canada and covers most of Electoral Area A on the west side of Kootenay Lake, including approximately 15 kilometers of lakefront on the south arm of the lake. It was purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2008 to protect and restore this biologically rich area. While most of the property remains in very good condition, there is a long history of human disturbance which has resulted in degraded habitat and invasive plant establishment in a few localized areas.

This project addressed the area with the greatest need for restoration: the old sawmill and forestry camp at the mouth of Cultus creek called Tye. Where Cultus creek drains into the south arm of Kootenay lake, there was an old sawmill and log sort at Tye that was abandoned over 40 years ago. All that remained was a heavily compacted five hectare field dominated by invasive plants competing with and displacing native grasses and wildflowers, degrading wildlife habitat and interfering with forest regeneration.

OBJECTIVE: This project aimed to create a resilient ecosystem with an appropriate mix of native trees and shrubs that can support the many species at risk in adjacent areas. The project restored the most heavily degraded habitat on the west side of the south arm of Kootenay lake by loosening the soil, adding coarse woody debris, fertilizer, native soil, peatmoss and planting native grasses, trees and shrubs. Additionally, biocontrol agents were released to control the knapweed that dominate the site and will help control the further spread of plants in the area. Over time, the native plants will start to shade out the invasive plants and an understory plant community comprised of native grasses and herbs will develop and support a wide variety of wildlife including several species at risk.