$8 Million in Funding Approved for Conservation Projects Across B.C.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation today announced over $8 million that will fund 167 fish and wildlife conservation projects across B.C.


For over 40 years, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has provided grants to a large network of recipients who undertake conservation projects each year. With support from HCTF, a wide range of nonprofit organizations, First Nations and Indigenous communities, Provincial ministries, and community groups implement projects that protect B.C.’s wildlife, freshwater fish, and their habitats. Since 1981, the HCTF has funded over 3,550 projects representing an investment of over $215 million for conservation in B.C.

CEO Dan Buffett is pleased with the diversity of projects as “each project undergoes a multi-step technical review process to direct funding to the best projects for fish, wildlife and their habitats.”

Project 5-310: Invasive Mussel Monitoring for the Cariboo Regional District

A significant source of funding for projects is the conservation surcharge paid by B.C.’s anglers, hunters, trappers, and guide outfitters when they purchase their respective licenses. HCTF also receives substantial funding from partner organizations like the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC), provincial government contributions, court awards, and endowments.

FESBC’s Executive Director Steve Kozuki is “thrilled to partner with the trusted and respected Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to improve wildlife habitat. With their first-in-class management of funds and projects by talented and professional staff, we know that we are maximizing benefits for wildlife in British Columbia.”

This year’s approved projects include:

  • $254,809 for functional and ecological restoration of approximately 16 km of linear corridors in the Clearwater Valley, led by the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society.
  • $146,747 to enhance 200 km2 of moose habitat in Nazko First Nation territory including rehabilitation of 100 km of forest resource roads.
  • $130,794 to determine the migration behaviour and habitat use of juvenile white sturgeon in the Pitt River watershed of the Lower Fraser River to develop habitat protections and restoration prescriptions.
  • $92,938 for the restoration of a former sawmill site in the heart of the salmonid migratory corridor of the Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers watersheds in the Comox Valley; this will restore the forested tidal wetland and reconnect the site to the floodplain of the Courtenay River, benefiting salmon, trout, and many other wildlife species.
  • $95,940 for the enhancement of critical habitat for mule deer, white-tailed deer, and Rocky Mountain elk between Raymond and Red Canyon Creeks in the Galton Range. Efforts will focus on slashing treatments and invasive plant management.
Project 2-349: Enhancing Upland Farmland for Wildlife in the Fraser River Delta

The B.C. Wildlife Federation also received funding this year: “Funding from HCTF will help the B.C. Wildlife Federation to train a new generation of habitat stewards through our Wetlands Institute,” said Neil Fletcher, BCWF Director of Conservation Stewardship. “With the support of HCTF, we offer a seven-day boot camp to qualified British Columbians who are pursuing projects in their communities. The grant for the Water, Water, Everywhere project will enable the BCWF to strategically place wetlands designed to mimic beaver dams with ability to restore and enhance wildlife habitat and riparian areas all over B.C.,” Fletcher added. “Installing beaver dam analogues with local partners will allow us to share our skills and expand our network of conservation stewards.”

To see the complete list of HCTF funded projects or explore the conservation work being done near you, view the 2023-24 Approved Project List.

Lower Nicola Indian Band Creating Community Safety through Partnerships

MERRITT, B.C.— With the support of close to $250,000 in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the Lower Nicola Indian Band (LNIB) removed dangerous trees and reduced wildfire risk in two areas close to the city of Merritt, BC.

The two locations border the edge of both Merritt and the Lower Nicola Indian Band Reserve Lands. Lindley Creek is located south of the Nicola River, south of Lower Nicola; and Fox Farm is located on the north side of the Coquihalla highway just east of Merritt on Fox Farm Road.

Crews from Shulus Forest Enterprises Inc., a company owned 100 per cent by the LNIB, did all the manual treatments of these sites including tree pruning, spacing, falling, bucking, piling, and burning, covering about 20 hectares at Lindley Creek and 11 hectares at Fox Farm.

Bruce Morrow, RPF, Bruce Morrow Forest Consulting Ltd., who submitted the application for funding to FESBC on behalf of LNIB, noted that the project was important because forest fuel treatments will make the area safer for wildfire suppression crews accessing the area in the event of a wildfire.

“Spacing of trees to reduce crown closure, pruning to remove ladder fuels to reduce the risk of crown fires, and reducing the amount and continuity of ground fuels will all contribute to reducing wildfire risk, and allow wildfire crews to respond faster,” said Morrow.

The Fox Farm community is located halfway up a steep hillside. The forested area below has been subject to wildfire suppression for over 60 years, resulting in a significant accumulation of dead and downed fuels.

“About 40 per cent of the trees were dead standing or lying on the ground ready to burn, creating a high fire hazard for a one-way in, one-way out community,” said Morrow. “We created a situation where hopefully a fire in the area will now move along the ground instead of through the crown. This will make it easier to fight and reduce the risk of structure loss from ember spotting onto the nearby houses from a crown fire.” 

Don Gossoo, General Manager, Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation (LNIBDC) said the crews employed an average of six people from the community who are trained in the use of hand tools for this type of forestry work.

“The work at the Fox Farm area was done downslope of several large properties adjacent to the Coquihalla Hwy. where someone could toss out a lit cigarette etc. The residents there were happy to see the work done,” said Gossoo.

“Lindley Creek is a corridor from the forest down to the valley where there are more houses,” noted Morrow. “The local winds and topography create a funnel in the Lindley Creek drainage, which can push wildfires downslope toward the homes at the bottom of the treatment area.”

Similar work being done in the area on reserve land and adjacent Crown land is being funded through the Community Resiliency Investment Program and the Cascades Resource District. Morrow noted the project is a great example of collaboration and cooperation in recognizing an issue and working together to protect the community.

“We are leaving behind a much happier forest ecosystem. Dry belt trees compete for moisture and nutrients and the trees there were competing for these and weakening each other. The trees left behind are healthier and more resilient to drought, pests, and weather because there’s less competition.”

Gossoo described it as taking a stagnant coniferous jungle and turning it into parkland, adding nutrients, sunlight, and moisture to the stand.

“This type of project provides socioeconomic benefits to the community through employment opportunities, and an environmental benefit in improving overall forest health.”

Stu Jackson, Chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band said projects like this one have multiple benefits to the community.

“They provide employment opportunities, improve safety, and help support healthy forests. We look forward to more partnership opportunities like this which enhance communities overall.”

Gord Pratt, FESBC Operations Manager, highlighted the importance of completing this work in support of addressing high-risk areas identified by Merritt’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the BC Wildfire Service.

“This is a multi-benefit proposal to the community, the forest, and the area as a whole,” said Pratt. “This project aligns with FESBC purposes, provides employment, and is exactly what we want to support in terms of rural communities working to implement wildfire risk reduction projects.”

The project also had the full support of the local Resource District and BC Wildfire Service. FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

For an interview with FESBC contact: 

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | communications@fesbc.ca| 250.574.0221

For an interview with the Lower Nicola Indian Band Development Corporation contact:  Don Gossoo, General Manager | don.gossoo@lnibdc.com | 250.315.9277