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 2021 Harrop Wetland Restoration Monitoring and Assessment Project at Sunshine Bay Regional Park will assess the outcomes of the FOKLSS 2014 Harrop Wetland Restoration Project and will include a feasibility study to identify areas for additional wetland function enhancement. The 2014 restoration project restored two wetland ponds by reducing disturbance by off-road vehicles, increasing the duration of water inundation, and planting native vegetation. Five years of citizen science monitoring data at the restored wetland noted low water levels and low reproductive success of western toad in late summer, indicating a necessity for improved monitoring. This need has been confirmed by local biologists. Citizen scientists also advise reinvigorating the monitoring program initiated in 2014 and re-engaging the local community to continue this work.

Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society is addressing these recommendations by hiring wildlife technicians and biologists, research Hydrologists and wetland designers to visit the wetland site and undertake surveys and assessments on site functionality, morphology, wildlife, vegetation, water quality and hydrologic function. FOKLSS will monitor western toad populations, development and emergence throughout the year to determine if water levels are adequate in supporting toad development and maturation. Additionally, FOKLSS will improve our citizen science monitoring program and garner continued support from current volunteers by developing an updated data acquisition protocol, delivering a re-engagement monitoring workshop, and hosting a database on our website.

OBJECTIVE: The overarching goal of this project is 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. The project will address the growing concern of declining wetland habitat by gathering pertinent data to inform ongoing management decisions for the Harrop wetland site. The project will convene local volunteers and environmental professionals to assist our team in conducting monitoring, surveying and assessments, and will provide educational opportunities to community members, including First Nations. The project has measurable, positive impacts on the environment and will provide opportunities for community members to act and create long-lasting environmental protection and enhancement of a critical wetland area.

PHOTO: Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society