Awarded to the Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society to address declining critical habitat for western toad, blue heron, painted turtle, and other at-risk species that depend on ephemeral wetlands along the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, while ensuring the wetland sustains essential habitat values in a changing climate.

PROPONENT: Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society

DESCRIPTION: The restoration site in Harrop’s Sunshine Bay Regional Park is a Kootenay Lake floodwater-fed ephemeral wetland that attracts breeding western toads, a COSEWIC species of Special Concern. This species has suffered population declines in southern BC due to habitat loss and disease. In low water years, the Sunshine Bay pools cause a population sink for Western toads as the pools dry up before tadpoles can develop. Additionally, increasingly hotter, drier summer climates increase evaporation and water temperatures at the site. To ensure climate resilience, the wetland must have a reliable water source and more shade cover to combat high temperatures and unpredictable lake levels.

This project builds on previous restoration and assessment work completed at the Harrop Wetland and supported by the KLLCF in 2014 and 2021. The Harrop Wetland will be further enhanced so it functions as a shallow marsh that retains water year-round by creating one central groundwater-sustained perennial marsh, bordered by surface-water-sustained ephemeral ponds.
Additional benefits include water filtration, floodwater storage, removal of invasive grass and wildlife viewing opportunities for the community. The project will combat the ever-increasing loss of wetlands across the province and create refuge for endangered, threatened or sensitive wetland users that have limited habitat options. Community meetings, training, and volunteer opportunities will ensure long-term community investment in the site.

OBJECTIVE: Wetland enhancement objectives include: 1) Create a groundwater-sustained perennial marsh by lowering the centre of the existing wetland basin with an excavator; 2) Eliminate tadpole dry-up mortality, increase habitat potential for western toads, and monitor water quality for a healthy-functioning ecosystem; 3) Expand the wetland type diversity and abundance through mechanical work and create microhabitats through by installing new habitat features; and 4) Accrue a dedicated team of long-term monitoring through promoting the Lake Waters Program and encouraging community involvement.

PHOTO: Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society