More than 60 watershed projects have been launched in B.C. in the last six months, including 12 in the Kootenays.
B.C. government officials said the projects are taking place at more than 200 sites across the province and the work is restoring rivers and wetlands, creating spawning grounds for salmon and expanding the protection of aquatic species.
First Nations and lndigenous-led organizations are managing and participating in many of the projects currently underway.
“Investing to restore environmental health is one of the ways we are supporting biodiversity and species recovery,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“We have much to learn from Indigenous Nations about stewardship of the land and water and, by applying their traditional practices and knowledge in concert with western science, together we are creating a healthier future for communities and species across B.C.”
The Lower Kootenay Band is one of the Wetlands Workforce partner organizations, helping restore 517 hectares of floodplains, wetlands, streams and rivers on traditional Yaqan Nukiy territory in the Creston Valley.
“Everything out here was connected before. This project is basically putting the land back, as closely as possible, to its natural function,” said Norman Allard, community planner for the Lower Kootenay Band.
“These areas are just as important to the world as lakes and rivers. Having more people learn about that and become interested in it will get us away from the stigma that wetlands are just mosquito-infested areas that need to be filled in.”
Work is also being done in the Columbia Basin as 25 people are collecting data and monitoring the environment under Living Lakes Canada.
“It is imperative that we support local and First Nations governments in their quest to build water-related adaptation strategies in our communities,” said Kat Hartwig, executive director, Living Lakes Canada.
“Water is the underpinning of local economies and is essential to the well-being of our communities. This initiative will increase water awareness, local engagement and climate resilience for residents across the Basin.”
The Healthy Watersheds Initiative projects are being supported by $27 million from StrongerBC.
Below is a complete list of the projects taking place in the Kootenays.
– Wetlands Workforce, BC Wildlife Federation: $5,055,000
– Mitigating the Hydrologic Vulnerability of the 26,000ha Columbia Wetlands, Living Lakes Canada: $50,000
– Nature-Based Planning and Natural Asset Analysis in Watersheds in Rural RDCK Area E Communities, West Kootenay Community EcoSociety: $450,000
– Slocan Valley Riparian Restoration Project 2021, Slocan River Streamkeepers: $55,490
– Farmland Advantage – Payment for Ecosystem Services, BC Investment Agriculture Foundation: $500,000
– Yaqan Nukiy Wetlands Restoration Project, Lower Kootenay Band: $235,000
– Sun Creek Wetland Restoration, Canal Flats, BC Wildlife Federation: $162,000
– Community-Based Water Monitoring and Restoration in the Columbia Basin, Columbia Basin Water Hub, Living Lakes Canada: $1,000,000
– Blaeberry-Columbia River Confluence Restoration, Golden District Rod and Gun Club: $500,000
– Cambridge Creek and Violin Lake Dam Decommissioning and Ecosystem Restoration Project, City of Trail: $561,000
– Elk Valley Stormwater Solutions and Water Awareness, Elk River Alliance: $19,197
– Elk River Watershed Community Based Water Monitoring, Elk River Alliance: $28,400