$9.3 Million for Wildlife, Fish and Habitat Including Projects in the Kootenays

Cranbrook, BC: For 40 years, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has helped fund conservation groups, government, Indigenous Nations, and local communities to implement projects that protect B.C.’s wildlife, freshwater fish, and the habitats they need to survive and thrive. This year, HCTF awarded $9.3 million in funding for 175 individual conservation projects across British Columbia.

HCTF’s CEO Dan Buffett is pleased to report that the 2021/22 grant season represents the Foundation’s highest record annual investment and reflects the financial contributions and hard work of many British Columbians that fund and implement these projects. To date, HCTF has funded 3,230 conservation projects and granted over $195 million in funds across the length and breadth of this ecologically diverse province.

One such project is the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments’ Boundary Restoration and Enhancement Program. The program, which received $67,380 in funding, aims to improve habitat quality, ecosystem resiliency and forage availability for ungulates and other native species by restoring or enhancing habitats and ecosystems. Often the final phase of treatment is the implementation of closely monitored prescribed burns. Not only does the application of controlled burns revitalize habitat conditions for wildlife species such as mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, Williamson’s sapsucker and Lewis’s woodpecker, but it also decreases the risk and intensity of future wildfire events in the area by reducing the continuity and availability of forest fuels. Additionally, the program continues to grow the collaborations with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Penticton Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band on project planning and implementation; and is partnering with all of the areas major forest licensees. The program is working with local communities in generating employment with highly skilled local contractors and improving the knowledge of controlled prescribed fire.

Prescribed Burn – Lisa Tedesco Photo

“The ongoing funding from HCTF has been critical in the programs longevity and success” says Lisa Tedesco, Project Lead with FLNRORD. “We have restored over 600 ha (1483 acres) of low elevation open forest ecosystems with selective harvest, understory slashing, prescribed burn and invasive plant treatments and have an additional 450 ha (1112 acres), including high elevation and mixed forest stands, under prescription and ready for implementation.”

Bubar Ignitions – HCTF

Other HCTF funded projects taking place in the Kootenay region include:
• $130,500 to support the Kootenay Region River Guardian Program which provides a compliance presence, collects angler survey data, and educates the public about sportfish populations.
• $93,500 to evaluate 15 years of conservation activities applied toward recovering a threatened grizzly bear population in the South Selkirks, co-funded by FESBC.
• $50,000 to improve wildlife connectivity and human safety along Highway 3 in the southern Canadian Rockies.
• $45,000 for invasive plant management on critical bighorn sheep winter ranges in Wigwam Flats, Bull River and Columbia Lake East, co-funded by FESBC.
• $52,150 to assists with recovery of Kootenay Lake kokanee by encouraging increased angler participation in the public fishery.

Funding and support for these projects and others across the province come from a wide variety of sources including public groups such as the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF), partner organizations like the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), provincial government contributions, court fines, and endowments. A significant source of funding comes from the conservation surcharge paid by B.C.’s anglers, hunters, trappers, and guide outfitters.

“Over 40 years ago, the B.C. Wildlife Federation lobbied for a surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses to fund wildlife and fish habitat improvement projects throughout the province,” said BCWF president Chuck Zuckerman. “The result of this impassioned call from B.C.’s hunters, anglers, trappers and sport shooters formed a new fund in 1981 that subsequently evolved into the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.”

Steve Kozuki, executive director of FESBC, has been pleased to be a partner with HCTF.

“FESBC is proud to partner with HCTF and local experts on the ground throughout British Columbia to improve wildlife habitat,” said Kozuki. “HCTF combines wildlife biology expertise with their excellent management of funds to deliver outstanding benefits for wildlife. With all the pressures on the land base, the good work HCTF does is more important than ever.”

Each project funded by HCTF goes through a multi-level, objective and technical review process prior to final Board review and decision. HCTF’s Board of Directors ensure that species important to B.C. anglers and hunters are supported but also place a great deal of importance on conserving whole ecosystems, species-at-risk, and investing in environmental education across the province.

To see the complete list of HCTF funded projects or explore the conservation work being done near you, view the 2021-22 Approved Project List.

For Interviews:

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation

Craig Doucette, Communications Officer | Direct: 250 940 3012 | Toll-free: 1 800 387 9853 ext. 212 | Craig.Doucette@hctf.ca

Forest Enhancement Society of BC

Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison | Direct: 250 574 0221 | communications@fesbc.ca

HCTF Quick Facts:
It is the mission of HCTF to improve the conservation outcomes of B.C.’s fish and wildlife, and the habitats in which they live. We make a difference by funding conservation projects and by educating and engaging the public about B.C.’s natural assets. 2021 marks HCTF’s 40th anniversary of helping conservation groups and individuals secure funding for conservation projects and providing education to the general public about B.C.’s important natural assets. Since 1981, HCTF has provided over $195 million in grants for 3,230 conservation projects across B.C. HCTF began as an initiative by B.C. anglers, hunters, trappers, and guide outfitters.

Mercer Celgar and Forest Workers Reduce Greenhouse Emissions in the Kootenays

CASTLEGAR, B.C.— Mercer Celgar is actively working to facilitate and increase fibre utilization in the Kootenay-Boundary Forest Region thanks to $3M in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).

The funding facilitates the recovery of fibre that would otherwise be burned on site, resulting in less burning which avoids the immediate release of carbon into the atmosphere.

Across the company’s operational area, significant volumes of usable fibre have continued to be burned as a result of the harvesting activities by forest licensees or from wildfire risk reduction projects near communities or in parks. Meanwhile, Mercer Celgar has been exploring many ways to have their fibre supply increased by improving utilization of non-sawlog fibre to their pulp mill in Castlegar. FESBC and Mercer both saw the opportunity in the convergence of these two issues.

“The FESBC funding has provided the economic support required for logging contractors to innovate new methods of increasing utilization of fibre from the areas they were harvesting,” said Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC. “For this project to be successful it took many partners to adjust their operations and policies to allow fibre to make its way to the pulp mill.” 

Pratt said these adjustments included how logs were loaded onto the logging trucks and the support of residents to allow logging trucks to use roads on private land to recover fibre from a wildfire risk reduction treatment in the neighbouring West Arm Park near Nelson. If not recovered, this fibre would have been burned on site. 

“Mercer Celgar’s program with FESBC has strongly influenced the company’s decision to proceed with the woodroom modernization announced last week that incorporates full forest utilization and sustainable resource management as a key requirement of the project,” said Stan Hadikin, RPF, Manager, Fibre Procurement, Mercer Celgar. “Strong collaborative efforts from industry, government, and stakeholders demonstrate a multitude of benefits including reduced wildfire risk, enhanced public safety, increased employment, improved wildlife habitat, ecosystem resilience, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Utilization can minimize the overall residual (left over) fibre on site by factors of 10 to 90 per cent. This project involves working with forest operators to increase the use of wood fibre and support the transportation of up to 200,000 cubic metres (one cubic metre is about the size of a telephone pole) of residual fibre for use at Mercer Celgar facilities.

The goal of fibre recovery and carbon benefits are intertwined. Through this project, Mercer Celgar will reduce the amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by avoiding the burning of wood waste, along with the negative health effects associated with the activity.

“Initiatives like this are critical to optimize the use of the existing wood fibre supply as much as possible,”

Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC

“FESBC is excited to hear that Mercer Celgar was able to take what they learned from their FESBC fibre utilization project and make the decision to invest in a significant improvement to their facility which will result in the long-term increase of forest fibre utilization well into the future,” Gord Pratt, Operations Manager, FESBC

West Arm Park Interface Treatment with Follow Up Discussion: Erik Leslie – Manager, Harrop Proctor Community Forest; Amanda Weber-Roy – Conservation Specialist, BC Parks; Amber Cooke – Wildfire Risk Reduction Specialist, FLNRORD; Charlene Strelaeff – Fibre Forester, Mercer Celgar; Len MacCharles – Fire Chief, City of Nelson; Gord Pratt – FESBC; John Dooley – Mayor, City of Nelson; Grant Walton, Resource Operations Manager, FLNRORD; Eric Wahn, Land & Resource Coordinator FLNRORD

Project Partner

For information on/or an interview with Mercer Celgar regarding this project, contact:

Rose Leslie, Communications Advisor | publicrelations.mc@mercerint.com | 250.365.7211 Ext. 3347 

For information on/or an interview with FESBC regarding this project, contact:

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

Print Version: FESBC Mercer Celgar Press Release June-22-2021

A Community Focuses on Forest Health and Wildfire Risk Mitigation

Midway, B.C.: The small rural community of Midway is located on Highway #3 about one hour east of Osoyoos. The town may only have a population of 649 people, but the community hosts thousands of visitors throughout the year who venture into the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF) to hike, bike or snowshoe the extensive Midway Trails network. As locals, visitors, and school groups are actively out in the community forest, the WBCF Board understood how critical it was to proactively start looking at ways to improve the health of the forest for future generations and to start removing dead and fallen trees that could pose a catastrophic wildfire threat.

“This project has been a community effort,” said Dan Macmaster, Fibre Manager for Vaagen Fibre Canada and Forest Manager of the WBCF. “Our team at Vaagen worked to develop the prescription, and then supervise and implement the work using funding dollars provided by FESBC and the WBCF. This project is on actively used trail systems, so it was important to engage the community to ensure their involvement and buy in, including our First Nations partners, in the planning and implementation phases.”

The Osoyoos Indian Band and their forestry team provided archaeology assessments at the outset and members of the Band have been involved in post-harvest treatments like bucking and piling trees.

“This project work has been a very light touch on the landscape using an innovative harvesting/forwarding system to minimize soil disturbance. Plus, we are doing hand treatments where possible. We’ve even had school groups come in to learn more about their community forest and to do some of the hands-on work.”

Dan Macmaster, Fibre Manager Vaagen Fibre Canada, Forest Manager WBCF

The need for the project started in the summer of 2018 when a strong windstorm came through the southern Boundary region and blew over a vast number of trees. Through daily inspections by the Midway Trail Society volunteers, blowdown from the storm was noted as significant, and an aerial inspection by the WBCF verified the extent of the damage. Because the area is already susceptible to the Douglas-fir beetle, the downed trees needed to be removed to prevent further infestation in the local forest. The Mayors of Midway and Greenwood were very supportive of the project, and a Director of the WBCF Board has been hearing excellent reviews from local residents and community leaders alike.

“We are pleased to see the hard work of so many make an improved difference for our Community Forest and for the Midway Trails,” said Ross Elliot, Director on the Board of the WBCF. “We expressed early on to the Midway Trails Society members and to the residents of Midway and Greenwood who have joint ownership of this Community Forest that there was a lot of work to be done. The $94,200 in FESBC funding, in conjunction with a $139,500 contribution from the WBCF, has allowed us to get the work underway. Moving forward, we will continue to rely on our community volunteers to maintain the trails well into the future for everyone to enjoy.”

Noting the many benefits of the project is FESBC Operations Manager, Gord Pratt.

“Our team likes to see projects that request FESBC-funding cover a number of our purposes and this project is doing just that. Not only are excessive fuel loads being reduced to mitigate increased wildfire risk, but the work is making the forest healthier. This in turn helps create enhanced wildlife habitat, maintain forest recreation opportunities, and ensures timber supply for future generations. When marginal stands can be harvested and brought to the local mill, projects like this also create economic benefits, including jobs for the community.”

To see the project area in relation to the Midway Trails System, refer to the map below or visit the West Boundary Community Forest’s website

For a tour of the area following all Covid-19 safety protocols or an interview:
Dan Macmaster, RPF, Fibre Manager Vaagen Fibre Canada & Forest Manager West Boundary Community Forest
dmacmaster@vaagen.ca | 250.528.0344

For information on/or an interview with FESBC:
Aleece Laird, Communications Liaison, Forest Enhancement Society of BC
communications@fesbc.ca | 250.574.0221

Skid trails to become new hiking trails in Midway