FOREST & GRASSLAND RESTORATION FOR SPECIES AT RISK

The highlights completed for the Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor for Years 1 – 4 (2019-2023) are listed below.

Year 1 Highlights

An overview of this project that aims to restore key habitats for species at risk – in particular Lewis’s Woodpecker and American Badger – that are being lost due to wildlife suppression resulting in forest in-growth in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex.

Overview of the habitat assessment project for Williamson’s Sapsuckers in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex.

Kootenay Connect provided funding for NCC to hire a qualified professional to conduct reconnaissance-level assessment of Williamson’s Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) habitat attributes and develop an ecosystem restoration prescription to improve critical habitat for Williamson’s sapsucker on suitable forested sites in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex.

Okanagan Wildlife Consulting was contracted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assess the potential for habitat enhancement for the Endangered Williamson’s Sapsucker (WISA) on the Wycliffe Conservation Complex (the “complex”) in the East Kootenay of B.C. and to develop habitat prescriptions for enhancement of at least one area within the complex. Habitat enhancement specifically for Williamson’s Sapsucker has not been done before in B.C. Most habitat research and recommendations have been aimed at mitigating the effects of timber harvesting, so the habitat enhancement approach here is developed from first principles.

Funding was provided by Kootenay Connect to hire a qualified professional to develop ecosystem restoration prescriptions for the Wycliffe Conservation Complex to improve critical habitat for two listed species: the Lewis’s 3 woodpecker and the American badger. Both species have experienced a reduction of suitable habitat and the degradation of existing habitat throughout their entire traditional range.

Year 2 Highlights

An overview by the Nature Conservancy of Canada of the work being done to preserve important grasslands in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex.

The Wycliffe Conservation Complex encompasses 1109 hectares (2740 acres) of ecologically significant grasslands and forested habitat in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench, and is conserved and managed in a partnership between the Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Nature Trust of BC, and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Throughout the complex, a mosaic of native grassland, open forest and closed forest provide a variety of habitat types to a suite of wildlife, including several species-at-risk. The goal of this project was to complete grassland and range health assessments to inform a grassland management plan and range use plan on the Wycliffe Conservation Complex.

This map provides a vegetation polygon health assessment with five categories.

Year 3 Highlights

The Wycliffe Conservation Complex encompasses 1109 hectares (2740 acres) of ecologically significant grasslands and forested habitat in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench, and is conserved and managed in a partnership between the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), The Nature Trust of BC (NTBC), and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRORD) (the Partners). Throughout the complex, a mosaic of native grassland, open forest and closed forest provide a variety of habitat types to a suite of wildlife, including several species-at-risk. The goal of this project was to implement habitat restoration prescriptions that were developed in 2020 to enhance dry open forest habitats and at-risk species on the Wycliffe Conservation Complex (Complex).

Year 4 Highlights

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and partner organizations are enhancing habitat for species at risk in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex (WCC), including by thinning the existing forest to help the forest transition to a more historic forest composition. WCC is an ecologically important area that contains a diversity of habitat types and is home to species at risk including the American Badger, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Williamson’s Sapsucker. This video summarizes NCC’s ecosystem enhancement and restoration projects in the WCC in Year 4 of Kootenay Connect.

The focal species at-risk in the Wycliffe Conservation Complex (WCC) include American badger (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii, Endangered, COSEWIC 2012), Lewis’s woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis, Threatened, COSEWIC 2010), and Williamson’s sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus, Endangered, COSEWIC, 2017). This final report for Year 4 provides an update for projects that The Nature Conservancy of Canada is leading on behalf of the Partners at the WCC in 2022-23, as part of the Kootenay Connect initiative.