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Conservation in Action

Conservation in Action
With support from HCTF’s Public Conservation Assistance Fund (PCAF), the  Salt Spring Island Conservancy is making a different to species-at-risk on  Salt Spring Island . Salt Spring Island is home to a number of vulnerable wildlife species, including the red-listed Western Bluebird ( Sialia mexicana ) , Western Painted Turtles ( Chrysemys picta bellii ), Barn Owls ( Tyto alba ) and   Western Screech Owls ( Megascops kennicottii ). With over 70% of land on the island being privately owned, the Salt Spring Island Conservancy (SSIC) focuses on working together with landowners to conserve and protect wildlife habitat on their properties. Through outreach, education and organization of on-the-ground conservation activities, SSIC is making great strides in the preservation and improvement of wildlife habitat on this jewel of the Southern Gulf Islands. Left: A volunteer installs a bluebird nest box on Salt Spring Island. PCAF grants are designed to get more people actively involved in conservation work. SSIC embodies this principle through mobilization of volunteers to enhance habitat, including building nest boxes for bluebirds and installing protective cages at turtle nesting sites. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate in monitoring programs to help guide future conservation activities. Above:   A volunteer participates in a wildlife monitoring program organized by SSIC HCTF is pleased to have...
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HCTF & Citizen Science Helping Nature

HCTF & Citizen Science Helping Nature
Youngsters all over B.C. are watching butterflies this summer.They’re learning which plants the different species of butterflies prefer, and in the process, they’re learning about nature and the intricate web that ties plants, animals, birds, insects and aquatic creatures together. Their photographs of the colourful butterflies resting on the plants they are attracted to, will be sent in to UBC student Heather Kharouba, who is working on a PhD thesis investigating what butterflies in B.C. are feeding on. “It gets them noticing the world around them,” explains Kristine Webber, executive-director of the Young Naturalists’ Club of B.C., while helping in field research for a worthwhile scientific project. “It also gets them thinking about the career potential for conducting such investigations,” she adds. “I imagine the Butterfly Project will be popular. They’re elusive, colourful and fun,” she notes. It’s also an opportunity for youngsters to learn about the butterfly’s stages of life and metamorphosis, which can then be applied to some other insects and lead to questions about other natural cycles. The importance of some plants to particular life cycles of the butterfly gives youngsters an opportunity to learn how vital such links are in the world of nature, and why...
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Why did the frog (try to) cross the road?

Why did the frog (try to) cross the road?
Although roads are vital transportation corridors for humans, they often have the opposite effect on wildlife, cutting off their normal routes to and from food and water or blocking their seasonal migrations.But, efforts are underway to connect amphibian habitats across roads without the carnage. With the help of funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, coastal ecologist Barbara Beasley of the Association of Wetland Stewards for Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds, has been spearheading a project to create tunnels for safe passage under roads. She is hopeful that will reduce mortality among five species including the red-legged frog, which is listed as a species of concern.They have also identified northwestern salamanders, rough-skinned newts, western red-backed salamanders and Pacific chorus frogs. The test project is underway on Highway 4 south of a four-hectare wetland called Swan Lake near the Tofino-Ucluelet-Port Alberni junction, but she’s optimistic the results can be applied elsewhere in B.C. where amphibians are being killed crossing roads that have been built through their habitat. Swan Lake is an important breeding ground for red-legged frogs. It all started when she was doing amphibian inventories in the Clayoquot...
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River Restoration Benefits Fish & Anglers

River Restoration Benefits Fish & Anglers
Fish—and anglers—in the Kettle River watershed are the beneficiaries of a three-year project by the environment ministry, with funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, to restore natural flows in the river. In 2003 and 2009 there were fish kills due to low water levels, which reached historic lows during the 2009 drought, recalls environment ministry biologist Tara White, who has been heading up the project to improve the situation for the last few years. Fishery closures were put in place in the past, but efforts to improve conditions have allowed recreational fishing to re-open more recently. In fact, White says there was a six-fold increase in fish numbers after installation between 2007 and 2009 of 29 large, woody debris structures throughout the river, which provide deep water refuge for rainbow trout. Now, they’re building on that with this three-year Kettle River Streamflow Protection Plan funded by the HCTF. At issue are over-harvesting of fish, increased agricultural use and development in the valley and environmental damage such as removal of natural riparian cover and in-stream debris. The ministry has been working to improve the deteriorating condition on the Kettle River for the past two decades, while flows have declined at...
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