Elkink South Block, Sagebrush Slopes and Sparrow Grasslands

The South Okanagan-Similkameen region is a biodiversity hotspot, home to unique assemblages of plants and animals. The Bunchgrass Zone ecosystem of this region is found in less than one percent of BC, yet it supports a tremendous diversity and density of wildlife.  Unfortunately, agricultural use and urbanization have resulted in this delicate ecosystem becoming one of the three most endangered in Canada. With thirty percent of the province’s at-risk species dependent on it, there has been a great impetus to conserve grassland properties before the ecosystem and its inhabitants are lost. HCTF contributed $800,000 to NCC ’s purchase of three properties in the South Okanagan Similkameen that contain significant amounts of grassland habitat.  Sagebrush Slopes, Sparrow Grasslands and Elkink South Block added a total of 1,263 hectares of invaluable habitat to existing protected areas. Together, these parcels comprise the most extensive sagebrush community in the region. Their protection preserves migration corridors and allows wildlife to move freely between the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys, and through to the desert areas of the western United States. Red-listed species on site include the Grasshopper, Lark and Brewer’s Sparrows, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Badger and Burrowing Owl. Once the management plan for the recently-purchased Elkink...
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Columbia Lake: Marion Creek Benchlands and Lot 48

Columbia Lake sits at the head of the Columbia River, nestled between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, about 7km South of Fairmont Hot Springs. The lands surrounding the lake are part of the East Kootenay Trench Ecosection, home to one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of species in the province. These include many of BC’s iconic large mammals, supported by a mosaic of habitat types that include native grasslands, Douglas-fir forests, and long stretches of wetland that comprise one of the last intact portions of the Pacific Flyway. In 2010 and 2011, HCTF was approached by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to help secure both the Marion Creek Benchlands (204 ha) to the west of Columbia Lake, and Lot 48 (127 ha) on its eastern shore.  These properties were “missing links” in established tracts of conservation lands, which risked being fragmented by residential development. Both contain grasslands used as vital winter range for ungulates, including blue-listed Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. They also provide critical habitat for non-game species, such as the red-listed Badger, and are used as movement corridors by wildlife including Grizzly Bear and Elk. HCTF contributed $750,000 towards the purchase of these properties to protect...
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HCTF Education Launches New Website

HCTF Education Launches New Website
The new HCTF Education website is now live! Learn about our education programs, grants, and initiatives to support educators and youth in environmental learning, outdoor field experiences and conservation i n BC.  View Site >>  
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Biologists and Winter Recreationalists Team Up to Save Telkwa Caribou Herd

Biologists and Winter Recreationalists Team Up to Save Telkwa Caribou Herd
In the Telkwa Mountains near Smithers, BC, a small herd of Mountain Caribou persists after nearly disappearing from these ranges only two short decades ago. With their rich colouring and impressive antlers, Mountain Caribou are striking animals, highly recognizable as the local cousins of the legendary reindeer. They are also among the most endangered animals in Canada, and have been reduced to a fraction of their historic range.  Over the last half century, the Telkwa herd’s population has undergone a steep decline, hitting a low of six herd members in the mid 1990s. Recovery efforts have helped increase their numbers to around thirty animals, but this still leaves them at high risk of becoming locally extinct. Since 1996, HCTF has invested in Telkwa herd monitoring projects to provide data essential to recovery programs. The most recently-funded Telkwa Caribou project is a collaborative effort between biologists and local winter recreationalists to determine the effect that activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, and ATVing could have on the survival of the Telkwa herd. The Impacts of recreation and wolves on Telkwa caribou recovery project uses satellite technology to collect data that will eventually be used to inform management practices. The project team has...
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Trench ER Program Releases New Report

Trench ER Program Releases New Report
The Rocky Mountain Ecosystem Restoration Program ( Trench ER Program ) recently released Blueprint for Action 2013 . This comprehensive report outlines the Program’s progress over the past 15 years, and includes information on: the ecological rationale for restoration of the region’s grasslands and open forests current and future strategies to achieve region-wide restoration restoration treatments and costs on Crown land, provincial and national parks, private conservation properties and First Nations reserves, a map showing projects completed to date, and lessons learned from the long-term monitoring of restoration projects. You can download the 4 page summary (PDF, 1 MB), or the complete version of the report (PDF, 7.5 MB). The Trench ER Program is a long-term undertaking by a coalition of stakeholders working together to restore fire-maintained grassland and open forest ecosystems in the southern  Rocky Mountain Trench , located in the East Kootenay region of BC. Restoring grasslands and open forests enhances biodiversity, restores habitat for species at risk, improves grazing (for cattle and wildlife), boosts forest health and reduces the risk of severe wildfire. HCTF supports restoration activities conducted as part of the Trench ER Program through grants  to the East Kootenay Grassland Ecosystem Restoration project , providing...
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