Help Stop Whirling Disease from Entering BC

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Last August, Canada's first case of whirling disease was confirmed at Johnson Lake within Banff National Park. Alberta's Bow River, Red Deer and Oldman River watersheds have now been declared infected with whirling disease by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the rest of the province declared a buffer zone (see map ). The disease devastated wild trout populations in the Western United States in the 90s, but its effects on fish populations can vary. In a recent interview with the Calgary Herald , Aquatic Invasive Specialist Kate Wilson said scientists are unsure how the disease will impact Alberta's wild fish. As there's no cure for whirling disease, Alberta is focused on monitoring, education and following protocols to stop its spread. Though BC has not (yet) had a confirmed case of whirling disease, HCTF is helping to fund a coordinator to lead a whirling disease monitoring and education program in BC. Here's a quick primer on whirling disease, and what you can do to help stop it from spreading.  What causes whirling disease? Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite (Myxobolus cerebralis) that infects both fish and freshwater worms during different phases of its lifecycle.                       What are the symptoms? In fish, the parasite affects the cartilage near the spine,...
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Restoration Work Begins on the Englishman River Estuary

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If you are walking the trails and beaches at the Englishman River estuary this summer, you may notice some new activity and heavy equipment working. It’s all part of a five-year plan to improve the habitat for fish and wildlife.   The Englishman River estuary and adjacent habitats support over 250 bird species, 23 mammals, plus several amphibians, reptiles, all species of Pacific salmon, and forage fish such as herring and Pacific sand lance. For over 25 years, The Nature Trust of British Columbia and partners have worked to secure land along the Englishman River. Today, over 100 hectares (247 acres) of the Englishman estuary and adjacent forest are protected and form part of the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area.    Since the 1930s, the Englishman estuary has been impacted by dikes, roads, residential development, industrial uses, and ditching. Today portions of the estuary are almost completely cut off from natural tidal and river processes. Consequently, the estuary has become less accessible for fish and wildlife that would normally use these habitats for shelter, feeding, and rearing.   “The Nature Trust of BC has been working with partners for decades to acquire and manage ecologically important lands along the Englishman River....
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Monitoring Vancouver Island Estuaries

Monitoring Vancouver Island Estuaries
 Thanks to Karen Barry from the  VICLMP program for sending us this project update! The Vancouver Island Conservation Land Management Program* has initiated a long term monitoring program to assess the health of estuaries and salt marshes on the east coast of Vancouver Island with support from HCTF and other partners. The goal of this monitoring program is to ensure that conservation lands provide high quality, accessible habitat for fish and wildlife, and to identify conservation concerns resulting from threats such as sea level rise, invasive species, or other human-induced changes. By implementing a standardized monitoring program, we can ensure investments made towards protection of sensitive estuaries are secured for the long-term. To determine the resiliency of coastal estuaries to sea level rise, we are installing Surface Elevation Tables (SET) platforms in several estuaries this summer, including Quatse River, Cluxewe River, Salmon River, Englishman River, Nanaimo River and Cowichan River estuaries. These devices allow us to see how salt marshes and estuaries are changing over time, by measuring changes in elevation of the substrate. The SET consists of an aluminum platform that is permanently installed in the estuary and anchored to prevent any movement. To take measurements, a specialized reader...
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Quesnel Lake Tagging Program Receives Top Honours

Quesnel Lake Tagging Program Receives Top Honours
HCTF Silver Award winner Lee Wiliston's project was recently featured in the  2016 Cariboo-Chilcotin Fishing Guide . Angie Mindus, editor of the Williams Lake Tribune , wrote the following article about the Quesnel Lake tagging program, and has kindly agreed to let us republish the story here.   High-Tech Tagging Program Unravels Mysteries of Quesnel Lake   A five-year study examining the effects of angling pressures on resident rainbow, bull and lake trout in Quesnel Lake has netted a prestigious provincial award, accolades from professionals in the field and critical information to ensure the long-term survival of the species. The Quesnel Lake fish tagging program, which was launched in 2013 in response to public reports of improved fish numbers in the lake and requests to review the restricted fishing regulations, is entering its fourth year and relies on a winning combination of a high tech fish-tracking system and good oldfashioned reporting from anglers. Lee Williston, study leader and senior fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said he couldn't be happier with the results. "The knowledge we have gained over the last three years has really exceeded all our expectations:' Williston said. "The number one...
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15 Years of Investments in BC’s Premier Angling Streams

15 Years of Investments in BC’s Premier Angling Streams
BC has a reputation for outstanding freshwater sport fishing, perhaps best exemplified by its world-class angling opportunities for steelhead and other trout on streams. “ Quality Waters ” is a descriptive term used by fisheries managers and anglers to describe the sum of all Classified Waters (and some non classified waters) that provide the province’s premier stream angling opportunities. Since 1997, HCTF has received and allocated dedicated funding for a variety of Quality Waters projects across BC. We have just released a report summarizing those investments. The report provides a historical perspective of government licence pricing decisions, documents the revenue received and briefly describes project investments made by HCTF on Quality Waters. It also provides a unique resource to help inform new policies and procedures about the involvement of HCTF in the evolution of the broader provincial Quality Waters Strategy. You can view the report here .