The Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) is opening the General Grants funding on Jan 8. REFBC supports projects that support land use decisions with positive impacts to biodiversity, fresh water, built environments, Indigenous communities, and local economies.
Funding is available for grassroot projects, up to $50,000, provincial-wide projects, over $100,000, and multi-year projects, up to $250,000. Apply by Feb 7.
Province of BC Drafts Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework
BC has the greatest diversity of species, ecosystems and habitats of any jurisdiction in Canada. In order to further protect these aspects of BC, the Province is taking steps to prioritize ecosystem health and biodiversity by drafting the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework.
The draft framework was developed through engagement throughout 2023 with First Nations and other parties, including industry, non-governmental organizations, local communities, municipal leaders and academia. The Province is formally consulting with First Nations Rights and Title Holders, and engaging with multiple natural resource sectors and industry, as well as local governments, and other partners on the draft framework.
The Real Estate Foundation of BC is calling for nominations for the 2024 Land Awards. These awards recognize outstanding projects and remarkable leaders that protect the lands and waters of BC. There are five awards for projects and two awards for individuals.
Stuwix Resources Joint Ventures, a First Nations-owned and operated fibre management company, and Valley Carriers, a visionary multi-generational trucking and specialty transportation company, are working together to reduce wildfire risks and greenhouse gas emissions caused by forest harvest residue practices.
With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding for a Bush Grind Project, the partners aim to turn residual materials from forest harvesting into valuable biomass products. They’re pushing the boundaries even further with a significant leap forward in a BioHub Pilot Project, dedicated to managing forest resources sustainably.
The Kamloops Climate Action Grant is a new initiative that aims to enable residents, non-profit organizations and charities to undertake projects that will help advance priority actions in the Community Climate Action Plan. You can apply for between $500 and $2,000 in funding for projects that support the Community Climate Action Plan.
The application deadline for this grant is Jan 15, 2024.
Grants of up to $10,000 are available to help local governments develop or improve long-term comprehensive plans for projects related to assessing the technical, environmental or economic feasibility of local government infrastructure projects.
BC Announced Collaborative Nature Conservation Framework Agreement
BC announced a collaborative nature conservation framework agreement between the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and First Nations Leadership Council on November 3. The agreement is meant to protect and conserve biodiversity, habitats and species at risk in BC in collaboration with the government and the First Nations Leadership Council to reach the provincial goal of protect 30% of the lands by 2030.
The Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation (the Framework Agreement) enables Canada, BC, and First Nations to jointly identify tangible projects and investments that will help to stop or reverse biodiversity loss and create more resilient landscapes in the face of increasing risk of wildfire, flood and drought. The Framework Agreement commits to advance alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in full collaboration with rights holders in its implementation.
Shuswap Band, Splatsin, Skw’lax te Secwepemculucw, Adams Lake, and Neskonlith are working with Parks Canada to create an Indigenous Guardians Program in four National Parks across the Secwépemc territory. As the “eyes and ears” on the land, Indigenous Guardians are trained to support Nations and Bands to maintain, revitalize, honour and practice their connection with lands and waters.
Guardians will share these activities with their own communities and other visitors on the land as appropriate.
The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) is a remarkable creature with beautiful, white fur lining its body and sharp, black horns rising up from its head. Assumed to be an adaption to living in the snow-covered peaks, the mountain goat’s white fur provides both warmth and camouflage that help it survive. The pointed horns are used by both male (billy) and female (nanny) goats to battle each other over their mates – the bigger the horns, the higher the rank the mountain goat has in its herd.
With their large forequarters, strong shoulders and short legs, mountain goats are built for mountainous terrain. These risk-takers are avid climbers that prefer steep, rocky terrain in their home ranges. Around 50% of all mountain goats in North America call BC their home, and their herds can be found along the various mountain ranges across the province, excluding most coastal islands. Of the estimated 3000 goats found across the Thompson-Nicola Watershed, approximately half occur in near Lillooet, due to the high mountains found in this area.
There is a compelling difference between coastal and interior BC mountain goats regarding their ranges causing researchers to recognize “coastal” and “interior” ecotypes of the species. In coastal areas, mountain goats tend to spend winter months in forested habitats of low to moderate elevations while interior mountain goats winter in drier areas at higher elevations.
Mountain goats’ diet consists of fresh vegetation such as grass, wildflowers and lichen. During the spring and summer months, mountain goats tend to travel into vegetated areas around the mountains they scale to feed, but only travel as far as 100-200m from their mountainside ranges. Along with vegetation, mountain goats also enjoy salt licking. Salt on road surfaces makes mountain goat sightings common along major highways and passes.
Although globally a stable species, mountain goats are a provincially Blue-listed species in BC, meaning they are of special concern. The following are major threats to the species:
Regulated and unregulated hunting is the primary threat to mountain goats in BC. Mountain goat hunting in BC is regulated through distribution and seasonal restrictions based on population and trend estimates.
Hunting is allowed in many Provincial Parks and Protected Areas in BC where a more conservative harvest is generally set. National parks, on the other hand, are protected from resident and guided hunting, but these lands only account for 0.6% of all land in the province. General access to wilderness areas due to industrial or recreational developments creates a greater risk to the mountain goat because there is increased access for hunters.
Road construction, forest harvesting, mines, and other industrial development in mountain goat home ranges results in habitat loss. Timber harvest greatly affects the mountain goat, specifically in the winter months, because mountain goats use forests to provide shelter from the cold.
Habitat fragmentation is also a concern for mountain goats. Habitat loss due to industrial developments can lead to isolations of herds, reductions of suitable habitat, loss of connectivity, and increased predation.
Human disturbances cause a high level of stress to mountain goat populations, much higher than most ungulates. Disturbances such as helicopters, industrial activities and recreational activities all negatively affect mountain goats causing decreases in populations, abandoning of habitats, and increased stress levels to the animals.
The Mountain Goat Management Team from the Ministry of Environment prepared the Management Plan for the Mountain Goat in British Columbia which states the management goal of mountain goats is to “maintain viable, healthy and productive populations of mountain goats throughout their native range in British Columbia.” Although the threats to mountain goats may seem of lower importance, when put together, the threat impact value is high due to cumulative effects on the species and the ecosystems they are a part of. Management objectives for the conservation of mountain goats include:
maintaining functioning, suitable and connected mountain goat habitats;
implementing adaptive management approaches to improve the mitigation of threats to mountain goats; and
to maintain and conserve resilient populations of Mountain Goats that protect opportunities for Indigenous cultural and traditional uses, as well as for other non-consumptive and consumptive users.
To support these objectives, the Government of BC has protected important habitats, established conservative harvest management procedures and policies, and developed partnerships with academia, researchers and non-government organizations.
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Grant Deadline Jan 15
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation provides grants to Indigenous groups/communities, educational institutions, charities, and municipalities across Canada to support grassroots environmental initiatives focusing on green spaces. Grants provide funding for community engagement, equipment/material purchase, staff costs, and awareness and education. Funding requests are needs based; however, the majority of TD FEF grants are between $2,000 and $15,000.
Pacific Salmon Foundation Projects Underway to Support Salmon Amidst BC Drought
Due to the most extreme drought conditions recorded in BC history, streams and side channels along rivers are drying up putting salmon survival and reproductive success at risk. Multiple projects supported by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) are underway. Varying from digging dry gravel bars to narrowing channel widths, the projects aim to ensure that the salmon have easy access to spawning grounds and migration paths. Current projects are as follows:
the Coldwater River near Merritt led by Scw’exmx Tribal Council and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO);
the Simpcw (Dunn Creek) Hatchery in the North Thompson watershed led by Simpcw; and
Tranquille River near Kamloops led by DFO with support from Secwepemc Fisheries Commission.
With funding support from the Province of BC kickstarting a Climate Adaptation Fund at PSF, the collaborative rapid response group has approved $76,000 to activate these four projects to help combat the adverse impacts of climate change on salmon.
Much of BC is experiencing drought levels 4 or 5, and with salmon trying to return to their natal streams to spawn, making their journey home more challenging than ever. This can lead to fish strandings and prevent salmon from completing their final mission – spawn and create more fish. Warm stream temperatures and drought are two significant factors that can affect salmon survival and reproductive success. Parched streams and side-channels along rivers become unviable habitat for returning adult salmon and juveniles.
If you see drought conditions affecting salmon in your area, you can help by reporting these conditions to experts through the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Reporting Tool.
At the end of September, the City of Kamloops unveiled an interpretive educational program in West Highland Park: the Climate Connections Trail. The trail aims to inspire exploration, reflection, and local climate action, and it was collaboratively designed with contributions from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Interior Community Services, Kamloops Food Policy Council, Kamloops Naturalist Club, WildSafeBC, Kamloops Museum and Archives, and Kamloops-Thompson school district No. 73, along with support from the Aberdeen Neighbourhood Association.
The Climate Connections Trail is a 1.8km walking loop trail that features signage with the following topics:
Mindful Connections with Nature;
Land and Language Poem;
Urban Ecosystems Matter;
Energy Use Matters;
Transportation Choices Matter;
Local Climate Solutions;
Secwépemc Seasonal Rounds; and
A Secwépemc Stsptékwll (Story).
These topics follow the City of Kamloops’s Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) that identifies eight strategic focus areas that target community greenhouse gas emissions sources. The Climate Connections Trail is meant to educate the public about the CCAP while experiencing nature in one of Kamloops’s city parks.
On Saturday, Sept 23, TNCC attended the Lac du Bois Restoration Workshop co-hosted by Grassland Conservation Council of BC (GCC) and Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC).
Grassland areas make up only one percent of lands in BC but are home to over 30 per cent of the province’s species at risk. The Lac du Bois Protected Area grasslands are under threat by invasive plants including spotted knapweed and chicory. The aim of the workshop by GCC and KNC was to pilot effective ways to manage invasive species in the area to help preserve the native and at-risk species that are naturally found in Lac du Bois.
Attendees took part in a hands-on restoration project where the group identified and removed invasive species from a plot, transplanted native plants to ATV tire scars on Red Hill, and planted native species in place of invasive species. Throughout the day, the group learned about the invasive species in Lac du Bois grasslands and how to efficiently propagate native plants for next year’s restoration activities.
TNCC’s Conservation and Engagement Coordinator, Vanessa Isnardy, joined the TNCC team this month. Also a current member of the Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC), Vanessa was pleased to join Jesse and Pam from KNC on an outing at Tranquille Creek with Thompson River University international students from Japan. Jesse led the group pointing out some of the natural history of the area while Vanessa provided an introduction an iNaturalist. The students were keen and were actively engaged in taking photos of various plants such as cacti, snowberry and cattails, in order to identify them. We also pointed out poison ivy, which was growing quite profusely along the trail, and suggested they record photos so that they would avoid this plant today and into the future.
Tranquille Creek area is a wonderful oasis for many animals that inhabit the Lac du Bois Grasslands. As Jesse explained, trees thrive here because of all the moisture, and this in turn provides great nesting and foraging habitat for birds and other animals. The beaver pond is also ideal habitat for many wetland plants, waterfowl and amphibians. Indeed, Tranquille is a biodiversity hotspot with over 220 species observed by iNaturalist users.
Halfway to Pine Park, the trail was quite flooded but the students were up for it! With some assistance from Pam, everyone navigated this section safely, but still ended up getting wet feet.
Once at Pine Park, Jesse provided some history of the gold mining in the area and performed a mock demonstration of what gold panning would have entailed. As this section of the creek falls within Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, and Tranquille is a salmon-bearing stream, this disruptive activity is no longer encouraged.
On our way back we spotted some very old bear scat and Jesse potentially saved a garter snake from being stepped on by Vanessa. The snake had been casually soaking up the heat from the warm rocks in the middle of the trail. Despite having to navigate the flooded trail again, the warm autumn sun brought out the smiles and made up for the soggy feet. Thanks to all for a wonderful and immersive afternoon!
The Tranquille flood plain used to be home to an abundance of native plant species, but after agricultural uses and the introduction of non-native reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) for cattle grazing, native species are now competing with the invasive plant for essential nutrients. The Reed Canarygrass Wetland Restoration Project is a pilot project by Dr. Catherine Tarasoff of Agrowest Consulting, to test ways in which the invasive reed canarygrass can be removed from the area.
The project involves the placement of a thick benthic barrier on top of a section of reed canarygrass to prevent the invasive species from accessing sunlight and air. Dr. Tarasoff’s goal is to learn if this treatment is effective in controlling and preventing the spread of this plant.
Working with BC Wildlife Federation’s Wetlands Institute program participants, and members of the Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC), TNCC helped to remove samples of the reed canarygrass from underneath the barrier, replacing the barrier afterwards. The samples will be examined by Dr. Tarasoff to determine if the barrier treatment is effective. The test plot is being monitored for results over a two-year period.
After this work, Jesse Ritcey from the KNC provided the group with directions on how to successfully restore native plants to the area. This involves planting locally collected native seeds in a tray of growing medium and keeping the trays outside over the winter. The cold weather is natural for these plants and helps prepare the seeds for germination and growth the following spring. The seedlings are then transplanted into small pots so they can be planted as hardy plugs during site restoration work.
Outcomes of the Reed Canarygrass Wetland Restoration Project can inform future invasive species management in wetlands of the Thompson-Nicola Watershed and beyond.
Seeing a wolverine (Gulo gulo) in the wild is extremely rare as they are a remarkably solitary species. The wolverine appears to look like a small bear, but it is in fact the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. Wolverines are known for attacking with their fierce teeth and sharp, long claws. Their thick, frost-resistant coats, small eyes, and semi-retractable claws make these creatures dangerous to fellow animals and captivating to humans.
Wolverines are distributed all around British Columbia’s deep forests and rely on several variables to establish a home range. Because the wolverine depends on different food sources throughout the year, food distribution and abundance, available carrion, and suitable habitat structures are all important when wolverines determine a range. Wolverines can be an indicator of a healthy environment because of the need for these many different variables and a habitat undisturbed by humans.
Home ranges of the wolverine are actively studied, and it is suspected that wolverines tend to use the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor, along with many other species, when travelling their home ranges. The organization Wolverine Watch conducted a study measuring the wolverine’s gene flow and metapopulation across western Canada and United States that shows how wolverines move through the Frog Bear Conservation Corridor. Read more about this research.
The female wolverine raises her kits in her den during winter months. Such dens are located in tundra and alpine regions, and are a complexity made of rocks or boulders that create natural, insulated cavities under the snow.
Because of the wolverine’s extensive distribution and solidarity, they are incredibly hard to research; this is why so little is known about their habitats. What is known, though, is the fact that wolverine populations are decreasing, making them a blue-listed species in British Columbia. Wolverines have an extremely low resiliency to changes in their environment. Threats to the wolverine include:
Trapping and poisoning: Trapping and poisoning of the wolverine is the top threat to the species. Wolverine fur is a high-value product, and although historical overharvesting caused a major decrease in populations, new forest developments have allowed trappers easier access into deeper forests where wolverines reside, making trapping an active threat even today.
Changes in prey: Over the years, humans have manipulated the land and the species that live on it including wolverine prey populations. This means that the wolverine must either adapt to rely on different types of prey or relocate to an area away from their home range.
Habitat loss: Although the habitat of the wolverine is generally unknown, habitat loss is a large contributor to the species’ population decrease. Large-scale logging and developments such as new roads are both very harmful to the wolverine’s habitat and take a toll on their population distribution.
Climate change: The only known small-scale habitat for wolverines are the dens in which females raise their kits. These dens require snow, and with the changing climate, snow is becoming less frequent putting their reproduction habitats at risk.
The wolverine is protected under the BC Wildlife Act however open trapping seasons continue to occur in regions including the Thompson-Nicola Watershed with an average of 168 wolverines being harvested annually over the past decade, although this number may be larger due to unreported captures.
Currently, research projects are taking place across British Columbia to guide the province towards better conservation actions to help preserve wolverine populations. Through education, active research and conservation, it is possible to protect these creatures from their top threats.
Did you know that BC Rivers Day started off with one cleanup on the Thompson River and is now celebrated as World Rivers Day in over 100 countries? TNCC celebrated by participating in two events in the Thompson Watershed: a Rivers Day cleanup at McArthur Island Park and Bert Edwards Rivers Day Event.
Thompson River Cleanup
Photo: River’s Day Cleanup Group at McArthur Island Park.
On Sunday, September 24, TNCC’s intern, Alex, collaborated with Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC) to host a volunteer river cleanup in celebration of World Rivers Day. This event not only helped clean Kamloops’ Thompson River of garbage, but also educated the public about World Rivers Day and the importance of keeping our rivers clean. The event also paid homage to the original BC Rivers Day which began with one cleanup event on the Thompson in 1980. In 2005, BC Rivers Day evolved to World Rivers Day and this year more than 100 countries across 6 continents participated in what has become one of the planet’s biggest environmental celebrations. Thanks to all the volunteers who joined us. Read an article published on the cleanup efforts by CFJC Today.
Bert Edwards School Rivers Day Event
TNCC and KNC collaborated to join Bert Edwards School’s Rivers Day event on September 28. This event is hosted by the school every year to bring awareness of the world’s rivers, their importance to our environments, and how students should care for them. Various organizations from across Kamloops come to support this event and share different activities with the students that show how we can help preserve and protect our rivers.
TNCC and KNC led a scavenger hunt bingo activity and a nature walk around the beach of the North Thompson River where students would search for the items on the sheet. The students seemed very interested in this activity, and they learned a lot about native plants and the salmon lifecycle along the way!
Bridging Indigenous Law in Language and Western Science
In an interview with Dr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya, a member of the West Coast Environmental Law’s Board of Directors, this article discusses biodiversity and ecosystem health from a scientific perspective. The article also considers how languages, specifically Indigenous languages, shape how we view the world’s ecosystems.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are popular family pets, but when they are released into the natural environments of North America, they become invasive species with a highly competitive and adaptable nature.
Goldfish infestations are a growing problem in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed, and the invasive species is outcompeting many native species in the region causing concern for the survival of native fish populations. According to iNaturalist, goldfish infestations have been spotted in Kamloops, White Lake Provincial Park area and Salmon Arm.
While there are over 100 species of goldfish, most people recognize the species as small, orange fish with wide eyes and rounded fins, but historically, they have not always looked this way. Native to China, the goldfish is a relatively small member of the carp family. They originally had greyish-silver or olive-green scales, and any goldfish with a bright orange colour was considered a prized ornamental fish and was selectively bred for thousands of years. As a result of this selective breeding, the majority of Goldfish people see today have this bright orange colour.
The size of a goldfish completely depends on their environment. In aquariums, the species can grow up to approximately 2.5-15cm (depending on how large the aquarium is), but when released into the wild, goldfish have been known to grow up to 38cm. The largest goldfish to be found in the wild was 59 cm!
Goldfish have an omnivore diet and forage far and wide for any sort of food available to them. A goldfish’s diet consists of fish eggs, fish larvae, insects and aquatic plants. Goldfish become considerable competition to native species that rely on these foods, and they also become a predators to all kinds of fish eggs and fish larvae, including ones of their own kind.
Like their relatives, the minnow and the carp, the goldfish’s eating habits increase turbidity, the cloudiness in water due to suspended material, in the bodies of water they live in. Turbidity is heightened by goldish because when they eat, they forage through the sediment at the bottom of the waterbody to search for food. This foraging causes excess movement of sediment material, and the native aquatic plants in the environment suffer from lack of light due to this movement.
Goldfish are very adaptable creatures that can live in a variety of environments, but they prefer streams, ditches, ponds and lakes with abundant aquatic vegetation. In the Thompson-Nicola Watershed, goldfish in the wild are found in ponds close to city centers and popular recreation sites where they have been released by people nearby.
These adaptable creatures are known to be extremely resilient when it comes to low oxygen and temperature levels in their environments. Goldfish have a special enzyme that turns metabolic products into alcohol when oxygen levels drop (similar to a brewer’s yest). In fact, goldfish can survive up to 5 months only relying on this alcohol. This means that unlike native fish that may die under frozen lakes in the winter, goldfish can survive through these winter months making them more likely to become an infestation in as little as a year.
Goldfish reproduction happens when the female’s eggs are released onto nearby plants or rocks where they are then fertilized by the male. A goldfish’s eggs are quite sticky making them resistant against the water current. Goldfish can lay up to thousands of eggs at once, but some may be left unfertilized or eaten by adult fish.
Female goldfish can also reproduce without male fertilization through a process called gynogenesis. In this process, the female can receive sperm from another species of minnow or carp, and as a result, the female goldfish clones itself creating a rapid population increase.
After being fertilized, the eggs will hatch anywhere between 2 to 7 days afterwards, depending on water temperature. When hatched, the fry survive on algae, but are often preyed on by other fish, including their own species. The lifespan of a goldfish, in ideal conditions, can be up to 30-40 years, outliving many native species that may be living in the water body.
Currently, goldfish are not listed as an invasive species under the Federal Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations in Canada, but it is federally prohibited to release any non-native aquatic species into the wild. The following are ways in which people can individually stop the spread of the species in BC’s waterways:
Don’t let it loose! Instead of releasing an unwanted pet goldfish into the wild, consider contacting the retailer to consider returning your pet, give the fish to a pond owner, or donate your fish to a local aquarium or school.
Raise awareness to avoid spread of goldfish into BC water bodies.
If you see goldfish in the wild in British Columbia, please report the sighting to ISCBC.
TNCC’s Conservation Program Intern, Alex Bruvold, attended the Kamloops Children’s Art Festival with Kamloops Naturalist Club and Nature Kids BC on September 16 to engage youth in ways we can help protect and conserve the species that live in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed and the environments they live in.
Each year, the Children’s Art Festival has a theme for the event, and this year the theme was Ranches to Rodeos. To match this, TNCC provided families with colouring sheets that demonstrated ways in which people can practice agriculture without disturbing species at risk in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed. TNCC also provided the organization’s own stewardship resources related to agriculture in riparian areas: Grazing at the Waters Edge and Stewarding Riparian Areas.
This event was a great opportunity for TNCC to connect with the Kamloops community, share some of TNCC’s resources and talk about species at risk in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed.
UBCO Fundamentals of Wildland Fire Ecology and Management Micro-Credential Program
UBCO’s Fundamentals of Wildland Fire Ecology and Management micro-credential program consists of three online courses and focusses on combining western science and Indigenous Knowledge to provide education about wildfire management. This program is designed for:
professionals with a university degree or college diploma in a related discipline;
practicing environmental and resource professionals: agrologists, biologists, fire ecologists, firefighters, fire and forest technicians, foresters, landscape and forest managers, and urban or landscape planners;
land managers employed in forestry, agriculture, land development, and wildfire resiliency;
different levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal, and Indigenous);
conservation organizations and agencies;
individuals seeking employment in an environmental field; and
post-secondary students seeking to gain practical experience.
The Fundamentals of Wildland Fire Ecology and Management program runs from December 2023 to May 2023, and the deadline for enrollment in the course is November 27, 2023.
The 2nd Annual Allies Mtn Bike Festival will be hosted by Simpcw in Chu Chua, BC is a chance for people to connect, share stories and epic rides in the spirit of reconciliation. The festival runs from Sep 29-Oct 1.
Building on the success of the festival in 2022, this will a chance for people to come together, share stories and epic rides in the spirit of reconciliation. There will be a funduro, camping, and group rides.
BC Goes Wild is a celebration of British Columbia’s great diversity of wildlife. September is historically a month where human-bear conflicts are at their highest. BC Goes Wild coincides with this month to bring awareness to these issues while also promoting ways we can live, work, play and grow in wildlife country.
The BC Goes Wild Photo Contest returns this year with two categories: BC Wildlife and Wildlife Stewardship. The BC Wildlife category is for your favourite photos of BC wildlife in their habitat. The next category, Wildlife Stewardship, encourages you to submit pictures that illustrate ways of preventing negative interactions with wildlife. This can include: hiking with your pet on leash, keeping your garbage indoors and attractants secure, keeping a “bare” campsite, packing out garbage from a favourite camping spot etc. Please share your story behind the photo when you make your submission.
The Contest will be running September 1 to September 30 and there is no limit on the number of entries you can submit.
Prizes will consist of $100 for the winning entry in each category as well as a WildSafeBC ball cap. Winners will be announced in October.
BC and World Rivers Day 2023 is set for Sunday, September 24. Rivers Day is the world’s largest celebration of rivers and the many communities and lifeforms they sustain, and it evolved from one cleanup on the Thompson River!
BC Rivers Day
In the Province of BC, the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORCBC) coordinates the promotion of activities and events. ORCBC also has a host of Rivers Day resources including an event hosting toolkit, scavenger hunt, bingo sheets and more!
World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.
Join us in Kamloops this Rivers Day!
This Rivers Day, join TNCC and the Kamloops Naturalist Club for a clean-up on the banks of the Thompson River in Kamloops. Read more.
Please let us know of any activities you are planning in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed that TNCC can promote or participate in.
Toothcup (Rotala ramosior) is a charming, low-sprawling plant that is a rare, but fascinating find in the Thompson-Nicola Watershed. Blooming from June to October, toothcup flowers range from white to pink and ladder up the plant’s elongated leaves along the stem. As the flowers develop into fruits, they transform into bright red bulbs making it more recognizable to the eye.
Toothcup is an uncommon species that occurs in open, seasonally wet areas where water levels fluctuate such as in riverbanks, ditches, and muddy shores. The plant has only been identified in two areas in British Columbia: The Thompson-Nicola Watershed and the South Okanagan Valley. In the Thompson-Nicola Watershed, toothcup has specifically been identified along the sandy and silty shores of the Thompson River and Kamloops Lake.
Toothcup is a Red-listed, or endangered, species in British Columbia, and in the South Okanagan Valley subpopulation, the introduction of grasses to the area is projected to disrupt the survival of toothcup in the coming years. Threats to toothcup include:
Currently, there is no specific provincial legal protection for toothcup in BC. As habitat quality continues to deteriorate due to shoreline disturbance, changes to flood dynamics, and loss of habitat from invasive species, toothcup shifts closer to becoming more at-risk in BC. As one of two of the subpopulations in BC, the Thompson-Nicola Watershed should be doing all it can to preserve this native plant. Actions we can take to help toothcup include:
keeping the identified toothcup locations free of invasive weeds;
avoiding trampling or driving over toothcup and the surrounding habitat;
learning more about toothcup and its biology; and
if you have livestock near a toothcup habitat, installing protective fencing around the plants.
West Coast Environmental Law Program Expression of Interest Deadline Sept 7
At West Coast Environmental Law, the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) Program facilitates an annual Co-learning Program consisting of three retreats. Participants will learn about approaches to researching, applying and enforcing Indigenous law, including a story-based approach. Expressions of Interest to this RELAW Co-learning Program 2023-24 are now being accepted for the following retreats:
RELAW Retreat 1: Indigenous Law in Story – November 14-17, 2023 at Spirit Ridge Resort, Osoyoos BC
RELAW Retreat 2: Indigenous Law in Dialogue – February 20-22, 2024 – Zoom half-days
RELAW Retreat 3: Indigenous Law in Action – May 2024 (4 days) – location TBD
The deadline to submit Expressions of Interest is September 27.
This month TNCC collaborated with Skeetchestn Indian Band, Skeetchestn Elder Terry Denault, and environmental educator Sue Staniforth, to share cultural knowledge and learnings with Skeetchestn youth through fun activities, teachings and more.
During the field day, the group visited Deadman Lake and Deadman Falls where they learned about the native plants, water and trees.
After Terry welcomed everyone, Sue led a sensory warm-up activity when the group arrived at Deadman Falls Lake. This engaged the youth in the environment around them to help “wake up” all five senses after the bus drive to the lake.
Using paint chips, Sue handed out colours to each of the participants with the goal of finding a piece of nature that matched the colour chip.
Terry spoke inspirationally to the group about the importance of the role youth have in protecting the land from the current and future effects of climate change. Terry also talked about ways Indigenous Knowledge and western science can be incorporated together to help us learn from new perspectives.
Terry led a nature walk around the Deadman Falls Lake and identified various plants sharing their cultural, nutritional and medicinal values.
At the second stop of the Field Day, Terry shared with the youth the significance of Deadman Creek Falls to the Skeetchestn community.
Sue led the final activity about the different parts of a tree and their roles in a tree’s system. Each youth picked a part of the tree to represent in a group activity that brought these concepts together.
Thanks to Wildlife Habitat Canada for their support of TNCC’s “Connecting With the Land: Youth Elder Field Days” project.
BC Strengthens Community Preparedness for Climate-Related Disasters
The Province of BC is providing $44 million to communities for emergency readiness projects under the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF).
Funding is for First Nations and local governments throughout BC and may be used toward:
risk mapping, risk assessments and planning (such as the development of a hazard map);
land-use planning (amendments to relevant plans, bylaws or policies);
purchasing equipment (such as monitoring equipment);
delivering community education; and
small-scale structural projects.
These projects include the Adams Lake Indian Band’s Disaster Risk Reduction Climate Adaptation Project, Clearwater’s Emergency Backup Power, and many more across BC. The CEPF enhancement is a response to the increase in climate-related hazards, such as flooding, drought, wildfires and heat, and supports the Province’s Climate Preparedness and Adaption Strategy. Intake for the current Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Adaptation program stream is open until Oct. 6, 2023.
Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society Rehabilitates Beavers in Wetlands Conservation Project
The Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society captured and rehabilitated four injured beavers as part of a wetlands conservation project near Merritt. The project is run by Tom Willms, a professor and biologist at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), and is supported by the Nooaitch First Nation. Once home to many beavers, Howarth Creek has been a common trapping area that, over the years, slowly dissipated the local beaver population taking with them the natural regulation of wetlands in the area. Bringing beavers back into Howarth Creek will help restore the wetlands making them more resilient to fires, droughts and flooding.
BC Launches Indigenous Climate-Resilience Capacity-Building Pilot Program
The BC Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy has provided $2 million to fund a one-year pilot program that will be delivered by two First Nations organizations with experience delivering environmental programs: the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative (CFN-GBI) and First Nations Emergency Services Society. The province has worked with Indigenous advisory groups to develop this pilot project to provide community supports, such as mentorship, knowledge products, adaptation training and a learning network to advance Indigenous climate resilience.
The scope of the pilot program consists of three streams, focused on:
training and education delivery
peer-to-peer network building
The first stream, or braid, will provide resources for regional climate-resilience coordinators who will be in place to support Indigenous communities throughout BC. The second braid will provide these new coordinators with training and skills that can be passed along to community members to support Indigenous communities to understand and prepare for climate change. Lastly, the third braid of the program will create a peer network and mentorship program for the regional coordinators to develop their capacity and share information that will help them better serve Indigenous communities.
The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) embodies grace and tranquility… except when it is heard squawking! It is an iconic and recognizable bird, known for its towering stature and striking appearance. With its long, sinuous neck, gray-blue plumage, and dagger-like beak, this heron stands as a symbol of patience and adaptability.
The great blue heron is a widespread species that can be found across North America, including the Thompson Watershed. These magnificent birds thrive in diverse habitats such as wetlands, rivers, lakeshores, and coastal areas. They are often observed in proximity to freshwater habitats, where they seek food and establish their nesting colonies.
These birds play a vital ecological role in the Thompson Watershed. As opportunistic feeders, they primarily consume fish, amphibians, and small mammals, helping to regulate local populations and maintain the delicate balance of aquatic ecosystems. Their presence is indicative of the overall health and diversity of the region’s wetland and riparian habitats.
While the great blue heron is not currently considered endangered, it faces various threats that impact its population in the Thompson Watershed, including habitat loss and degradation, disturbance, and urbanization.
“We have it within us to take the courage that is needed…to transform and change our way of living.”
Stó:lō Nation Elder Eddie Gardner.
Establishing protected areas, wildlife refuges, and reserves provide sanctuaries for the great blue heron and other species. These designated areas offer undisturbed breeding grounds and foraging sites, helping to safeguard the species’ well-being.
A notable example of habitat restoration and protection that benefits the great blue heron and other species is the story of the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve in Chilliwack, BC. Check out this great documentary on the sanctuary and how its keepers are working to provide valuable habitat to many of BC’s important species.
The great blue heron serves as a symbol of the Thompson Watershed’s rich natural heritage and the delicate balance between human development and environmental conservation. By valuing and protecting its wetland habitats, we can ensure the continued presence of this majestic bird, enriching our lives and maintaining the integrity of our region’s ecosystems.
Through a partnership between the Upper Nicola Band and Living Lakes Canada, Indigenous Knowledge is being incorporated into a new approach for climate-resilient lake management. The Local Indigenous Knowledge and Values Framework report developed by the Upper Nicola Band and Living Lakes Canada will “instruct ways of harmonizing Indigenous Knowledge and western science, creating opportunities for both worldviews to work in tandem throughout the Foreshore Integrated Management Planning (FIMP) project process”. This summer, the Upper Nicola Band will be applying this methodology to complete a FIMP re-survey of Nicola Lake.
Read more to learn about this breakthrough collaboration.
Extensive Area of Grasslands South of Kamloops Now Protected
Over 6,100 hectares of grasslands are being protected forever. The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Bunchgrass Hills Conservation Area project constitutes one of the largest private grassland conservation achievements in the province. Its rolling hills are covered in native grasses, including bluebunch wheatgrass, and are dotted with Douglas-fir woodlands and scattered wetlands.
“Grasslands are an integral part of the province’s Interior ecosystems, and the Bunchgrass Hills Conservation Area is significant for its ecological attributes. This is a great example of conservation financing that brings together the resources of government and individuals to achieve important conservation goals and protect valuable ecosystems, which is critical in this time of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship
Home to many Species at Risk, including the Great Basin spadefoot toad and Lewis’s woodpecker, Bunchgrass Hills now serves as a shelter for these species to grow and flourish. Protecting large intact grasslands bolsters local climate resilience and contributes to provincial and national targets to protect 30 per cent of BC’s and Canada’s land by 2030.
The Lewis’s woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) is a striking bird found in the Thompson Nicola Region that’s known for its vibrant feathers and unique behaviors. With its glossy green-black feathers, salmon-coloured belly, and red face, this woodpecker is a sight to behold. Named after explorer Meriwether Lewis, this species relies on open ponderosa pine forests and woodlands for its survival. Unlike its name, this species of woodpecker doesn’t peck wood to forage wood-boring insects. Instead, it has evolved to catch flies, often from a treetop perch. Lewis’s woodpecker is currently facing endangerment due to habitat loss and a decline in suitable nesting sites.
Habitat and Distribution
Historically, the Lewis’s woodpecker inhabited extensive tracts of open forests and woodlands in western North America, including parts of the Thompson Nicola Watershed. However, its population has significantly declined due to habitat loss, changes in land use, and fire suppression practices. Today, it can be found in fragmented pockets of suitable habitat throughout its range.
Threats to the Lewis’s Woodpecker
The Lewis’s woodpecker faces several challenges that have led to its endangerment in the Thompson Nicola Watershed. The main threats include:
Habitat Loss: Human activities, including logging, urbanization, and agriculture, have resulted in the loss and fragmentation of the woodpecker’s preferred habitat. Open forests with a mix of dead and live trees, snags, and burned areas are crucial for nesting and foraging. The loss of these habitat features has severely impacted the woodpecker’s population.
Lack of Suitable Nesting Sites: The Lewis’s woodpecker relies on tree cavities for nesting, however, the reduction in standing dead trees (called snags in forest ecology) and the removal of old-growth forests have limited the availability of suitable nest sites. Competition with invasive species, such as European starlings, for these limited nesting spaces further heightens the woodpecker’s challenges.
Efforts are underway to protect and restore the Lewis’s woodpecker population in the Thompson Nicola Watershed. Conservation initiatives include:
Habitat Restoration: Organizations and land managers are working to restore and maintain open Ponderosa pine forests and woodlands, ensuring the availability of suitable habitat for the woodpecker. Active forest management practices, such as controlled burns and snag creation, are employed to mimic natural processes and enhance habitat diversity.
Nest Box Programs: To mitigate the shortage of natural nest sites, nest box programs have been implemented. These artificial nesting structures provide additional breeding opportunities for the woodpecker, supplementing the limited availability of natural cavities.
Public Engagement and Education: Public awareness campaigns and educational programs play a crucial role in fostering a sense of stewardship among local communities. By highlighting the importance of preserving the Lewis’s woodpecker’s habitat, these initiatives encourage individuals to actively participate in conservation efforts.
The Lewis’s woodpecker’s endangered status in the Thompson Nicola Region serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between human activities and wildlife conservation. By prioritizing habitat preservation, restoration, and public engagement, we can help protect this charismatic woodpecker and ensure the sustainability of its population for future generations.
Tŝihqot’in Chiefs Speak at United Nations; Rangers Speak at Guardians Gathering in Ottawa
A Tŝihqot’in delegation presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April in New York. Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse’s speech outlined the importance of Indigenous knowledge during the climate crisis – specifically during wildfires and other emergencies.
In May, four Tŝihqot’in Rangers attended the National Guardians Network Gathering in Ottawa, including Bruce Lulua and Jimmy Harry Jr. who presented to the group on being a Ranger, the training required to be on land and water, and work with Government Agencies.
The Fisheries team has completed the installation of the temporary conservation hatchery at the Hanceville site, a key milestone in developing long-term conservation hatchery capacity in Tŝihqot’in Territory.
Read the full articles in the Tŝihqot’in National Government (TNG) spring newsletter, from which this content was abridged.
The Elephant Hill Wildfire Invasive Plant Program was developed by the Thompson Nicola Regional District to mitigate the impacts of invasive species in areas affected by wildfire. With funding from the Canadian Red Cross, the program implemented a range of activities from 2019-2022 including post-fire aerial and hand-seeding, treatments and monitoring. Events were held to engage with landholders and the community to gain input and distribute information.
We Are of Water Graphic Novel Launch Kicks off National Indigenous History Month
Healthy Watersheds Initiative has launched the graphic novel We Are of Water, illustrated by Chenoa Gao, now available to download. We Are of Water provides visuals connected to voices and knowledge shared by Indigenous Elders, youth, and community members through Healthy Watershed Initiative projects on the significance of watersheds and water.
Nestled within the picturesque landscape of British Columbia’s Thompson-Nicola watershed area lies a hidden gem of avian biodiversity—the common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). With its enigmatic nature and captivating aerial acrobatics, this fascinating bird captivates the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
The common nighthawk, although not a true hawk, exhibits distinctive hawk-like features. It possesses a slender body, long pointed wings, and a slightly forked tail. Its mottled brown and gray plumage, speckled with white patches, provides exceptional camouflage during the day when they roost on the ground or on tree branches. These birds are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk when they embark on their mesmerizing aerial displays.
They are commonly found in open landscapes such as grasslands, forests, and meadows, often near water bodies. The region’s diverse ecosystems, encompassing the Thompson River, Nicola River, and their tributaries, offer an abundant supply of insects—the primary food source for common nighthawk.
Common nighthawks are aerial insectivores, specializing in catching insects on the wing. At twilight, they soar and swoop through the sky, employing their massive mouths to snatch flying insects mid-flight. Their aerobatic displays, punctuated by their distinctive “peent” calls, add an ethereal charm to the Thompson-Nicola landscape.
“All these birds that rely on insect populations are declining faster than any other group of birds in North America… Common nighthawks migrate from North to South America and back every year, which makes pinpointing reasons for decline particularly difficult.”
Elly Knight, University of Alberta.
In late summer, the common nighthawk undertake an incredible feat—their long-distance migration to South America. These birds embark on an arduous journey, covering thousands of kilometers, to reach wintering grounds in the Amazon rainforest. The Thompson-Nicola watershed area serves as an important stopover site for these migrants, providing crucial resources for refueling before their extensive journey.
A study led by Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the University of Alberta tracked the 10,000km migratory route of the Common nighthawk.
Despite their remarkable adaptability and endurance, common nighthawk face several challenges that impact their populations. Habitat loss due to urbanization, agriculture, and deforestation poses a significant threat. These birds are ground nesters, laying their eggs on bare ground or gravel rooftops, making their nests vulnerable to disturbance and destruction. COSEWIC designated the common nighthawk as threatened in 2007.
Pesticide use negatively affects their primary food source—insects. Pesticides reduce insect populations, diminishing the available food supply for the nighthawks. Light pollution is another concern as it disrupts their feeding and reproductive behavior, leading to population decline.
As stewards of the environment, it is crucial to protect and preserve the habitats the common nighthawks rely on for breeding and migration.
“There’s lots of things that people can do to help aerial insectivores now, that are no-regrets actions, things like implementing integrated pest management practices on agricultural lands, retaining wetlands in agricultural landscapes and Prairie landscapes, and driving slow on gravel roads.”
Elly Knight, University of Alberta.
The common nighthawk is an enigmatic and captivating bird that enriches the biodiversity of the Thompson-Nicola watershed area. Their aerial displays, unique foraging techniques, and migratory patterns make them a fascinating species to observe and appreciate. Let’s come together to safeguard these remarkable birds and secure a future where they can continue to grace our skies.
By incorporating a Two-Eyed Seeing approach, the TNCC is working with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to map locations where culturally important lands are found within the project area while investigating how the distribution of wetlands and grasslands in the Thompson-Nicola region may be impacted by climate change. To further identify climate-impacted wetlands and grasslands, researchers at UBC are working to develop a predictive model for mapping the type and condition of these ecosystems using satellite remote sensing and digital topographic data.
This summer, the team will be conducting field surveys to help refine the predictive models which, once finalized, will guide regional efforts to develop policy and land use practices to support climate-informed conservation planning.
Mexican mosquito-fern, Azolla mexicana, is a tiny floating fern found in wetlands, ponds and other small wet areas. The fern’s natural range is North, Central and South America. In Canada, it is only found in British Columbia, the northern tip of its range. Just eight populations exist in BC in three regions which include the Little Fort and Shuswap Lake areas of the Thompson Watershed.
Plants range from 1-2 cm in length with tiny leaves that overlap like shingles. The species forms extensive green or red mats on the surface of the water. The Mexican mosquito-fern grows in a symbiotic relationship with a species of blue-green alga (a cyanobacterium) Anabaena azollae. Reproduction is primarily through fragmentation of plants and secondarily through spore production.
This aquatic fern is impacted by urban development, water pollution and invasive species as well as by changes in the general chemistry and temperature of the water it inhabits.
COSEWIC assessed Mexican mosquito-fern as Threatened in 2000. The Canadian populations could be significant to the long-term survival of this species in the face of climate change due to their peripheral location relative to the main species range further south.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada Western Bat Program Team continues to work to understand how naturally occurring micro-organisms on bat wings can be used to help reduce the effects of the invasive, introduced fungal species that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. This “probiotic project” continues with research partners at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and with both state and provincial wildlife biologists in Washington and British Columbia. This beautiful short video was shot as the team conducted work in Lillooet, setting up nets and extracting bats in the warm summer nights of the dry interior of BC.
In spring, the largest snake found in BC stirs from its hibernation to mate and forage. The Great Basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) is found in dry, grassland or forested areas with rocky cliffs or talus slopes suitable for den sites. As they prey on small mammals, gophersnakes play a valuable role in helping protect crops from pests.
They have black or reddish-brown rectangular blotches down the back, contrasted on a creamy-yellow or grayish-yellow background. Individuals usually have a dark mask running from the corners of the mouth and around each eye. The head is small and only marginally wider than the neck with large eyes and round pupils. When threatened, gophersnakes will flatten their head, hiss loudly, and vibrate their tail, creating a convincing rattlesnake imitation. Rattlesnakes however, almost never hiss, and will produce an audible and distinct buzzing sound from their rattle that cannot be imitated by a gophersnake.
Gophersnakes are active hunters mainly seeking out rodent burrows where they will prey on the inhabitants and safely remain to digest their meal. They can also catch prey in trees or shrubs and like to eat mice, voles, and squirrels, and sometimes feast on lizards, birds and their eggs. While they can swallow smaller prey alive, Great Basin gophersnake are true constrictors, squeezing their prey until they die of asphyxiation.
Gophersnakes have large home ranges making their migration between summer foraging grounds, nesting sites and overwintering hibernacula sometimes fatal due to road crossings. Pesticide use to control rodent populations can reduce the availability of their prey. As gophersnakes superficially resemble rattlesnakes, they are sometimes unnecessarily killed by fearful humans.
In BC, gophersnakes are at the northern limit of their range. Harsh winters and their low reproductive capacity reduce their ability to recover from population declines. As a result, the Great Basin gophersnake has been federally listed as threatened. With most of its Canadian population living in the Thompson and Okanagan, it’s important to conserve its habitat in this region to prevent extirpation.
The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) holds the title of fastest bird on the planet, and some argue it’s even the fastest animal on the planet using gravity to reach speeds of up to 320km/hr. During the summer these incredibly fast birdscall the Thompson Watershed home.
Populations of peregrine falcons are dependent on their prey populations, which mainly include coastal shorebird colonies, waterfowl populations, and other small-bodied birds like crows, robins, and swallows. Their prey populations are becoming increasingly at risk due to habitat loss and degradation which adversely affects peregrine falcon populations.
Peregrine falcons are one of the most widely distributed birds on the planet, inhabiting every continent except Antarctica. Two subspecies are found in North America, the pealei subspecies and anatum/tundrius, both of which inhabit BC.
The pealei subspecies of peregrine falcons, known as Peale’s peregrine falcons,mainly reside on BC’s coastline and interior, and were designated by COSEWIC as a species of special concern in 2007 and was re-designated as such in 2017 due to its small population size. The small numbers of this population make them highly susceptible to environmental disturbance and the detrimental effects of changes in prey populations.
The anatum/tundrius subspecies, also referred to as the American peregrine falcon, experienced significant population declines across North America in the 1960s and 1970s due to intensive use of the pesticide DDT, which birds ingested via the food web, resulting in the thinning of egg shells and subsequent reduced hatchling success. Following the ban of this pesticide and re-introduction of this species, the population has since recovered and today this subspecies is not at-risk.
The rugged terrain of BC’s dry interior provides critical habitat for peregrine falcon nest sites as they typically form their nests on cliffs, especially near rivers and wetlands. The availability of these nest sites and the success of their hatchlings is critical to maintaining populations of these falcons since adults only lay one clutch of 3-4 eggs per year.
The ongoing recovery of the peregrine falcon is, in part, thanks to extensive, focused stewardship efforts including a major captive-breeding program. For this impressive raptor to survive into the future, it is essential that its breeding sites and prey remain in sufficient quantities to support current and future populations – and that the peregrine falcon doesn’t fall foul to another pesticide similar to DDT. As the American peregrine falconbreeds wherever there are sufficient concentrations of prey along rivers and wetlands, protecting these critical habitats in the Thompson Watershed is key to helping the peregrine falcon thrive.
Thompson-Nicola Conservation Collaborative is partnering with the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC to co-host their ‘Grasslands as Teacher” winter webinar series running on Wednesdays from February 22 to March 15 from 12:00 pm–1:00 pm PST.
Each presenter in the series will share their knowledge of grasslands and what we learn from them from a conservation perspective. The webinars will take place live, virtually on Zoom Webinar with a phone-in option available and there is no cost to attend.
Read more about each webinar and register today!
February 22: An Introduction to Grasslands with Wendy Gardner, Thompson Rivers University
Simpcw Natural Resources Department and Estsék’ Environmental LLP (Estsék’) biologists are conducting a research project on the American badger jeffersonii subspecies (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii) in core badger habitat and surrounding corridors in Simpcwúl̓ecw (Simpcw Territory).
Working together with provincial biologists has allowed the study team to identify key issues facing badgers in the Thompson region, including insufficient knowledge of their population numbers and dynamics, and road mortality. The project will focus on obtaining a current estimate of badger population numbers in Simpcw Territory through DNA and facial recognition analysis, combined with culvert assessments and restoration of blocked culverts. These efforts will inform crucial conservation management decisions regarding badger populations, guide road mitigation strategy decisions, and by restoring blocked culverts, have an immediate beneficial impact on badger road mortality.
Landowner outreach is another critical component of this project, and the team hopes that over the course of the project, they can help educate people on the unique benefits this species brings to the landscape, spread awareness of the unique requirements of this species, and decrease human-badger conflicts.
The team encourages anyone with concerns about badgers on their property to check out this pamphlet published by WildsafeBC.
World Wetlands Day is a great day to share the news of a new wetland course being launched by the University of British Columbia Okanagan. The Wetland Delineation and Assessment Micro-Credential is a new course intended for practicing professionals, local government, provincial regulators, and students wanting to acquire background knowledge and hands-on field experience in wetland delineation and assessment methods.
The curriculum includes:
three-day online component: May 8-10, 2023
two-day field component: May 16-17, 2023
This applied course focuses on methods to identify wetlands and delineate their boundaries in the field based on vegetation, soil, and hydrological indicators. Course work includes desktop assessment of wetland boundaries using aerial photo interpretation.
Come prepared to gain hands-on experience and develop technical skills for plant identification, field description of soil profiles, evaluation of hydrology, and use of existing data sources to determine wetland boundaries. Topics in wetland classification, functional assessment, regulatory processes, impacts and mitigation will be covered.
This course is offered through the Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science at UBC Okanagan. Instructors are:
Kristen Andersen, P. Biol., PWS, Senior Wetland Scientist
Carrie Nadeau, R.P.Bio., Senior Ecologist
Successful completion earns a Letter of Proficiency, an official University of British Columbia (UBC) non-credit micro-credential. An existing or prior affiliation with UBC is not required. There will be limited enrolment and the cost is to be announced. More information will be coming soon at: https://eegs.ok.ubc.ca/non-degree-programs/
For further information, or to be added to their mailing list for updates, please contact Marni Turek, Program Coordinator.
At this time of year, you typically won’t spot this bat species unless you are exploring abandoned mines and dark caves where they hibernate during the cool months. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) is a vulnerable bat species inhabiting most of North America. It is one of 19 bat species found in Canada and inhabits nearly every province and territory, besides Nunavut, and every region in BC including the Thompson, Okanagan and Kootenays. This species is listed as endangered nationally and in BC they are classified as a species of special concern.
This species heavily relies on cliffs, rock crevasses, trees, abandoned buildings, and piles of wood for summer roosting habitat during breeding season. During this period, effective foraging habitat is critical to their survival as they can eat half of their body weight in insects each night and females that are nursing can eat more than their body weight in prey. Little brown bats typically hunt over streams, along riverbanks, and on the edges of woodlands surrounding waterways as these open habitats allow the bats to hunt most effectively using echolocation. The combined needs of cliffs, caves, and riparian habitats, makes the Thompson Watershed prime habitat for this species.
Despite their small size and mass (weight: 7-9 grams), bats of this species are known to live up to 30 years.
It is while hibernating that little brown bats are most susceptible to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that thrives in cool, wet environments. This disease rapidly spreads through bat colonies and plagues populations by depleting its energy through hibernation, and in some cases leading to regional extinctions. The white fungal growth on their “nose” and wings disrupts their pattern of hibernation, repeatedly awakening them through the winter months, depleting their energy stores and forcing them into a state of starvation before they can forage in spring. Those infected use their energy reserves twice as fast as those unaffected.
The Western Canada Bat Conservation Program led by Associate Conservation Scientist Cori Lausen of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, leads, implements, and coordinates research and conservation initiatives related to Western Canada’s bats. At the time of publishing this article, white-nose syndrome has been found in Saskatchewan and Alberta but not yet in British Columbia.
We’re in a bit of time crunch. White-nose Syndrome is already on the West Coast — it’s only a matter of time before it gets to BC. It’s this impending feeling of doom that has us working hard to see if we can find the science to prevent it. There’s still a chance that we could potentially save the lives of western bats. – Research Technician Aaron Wong, Thompson Rivers University
Outside of white-nose syndrome, these bats are also highly susceptible to habitat loss and degradation, pollution, climate change, wind turbines, and pesticides. The conservation of this species is important for the economy and ecosystems.
We rely on these animals as critical players in insect control and pollination of many crops and wild flowers. These animals also maintain ecosystems, dispersing seeds across far distances and acting as prey for other vulnerable species like owls, hawks, falcons and small mammals.
Grasslands are one of the major ecosystems in the world and are called by many different names depending on where they are found, from prairies in North America to pampas in South America. On an environmental gradient, grasslands can be thought of as an intermediate ecosystem, with forests at one end and deserts at the other. Grasslands are environments where there is too little moisture to support forests but too much moisture to support a desert.
Tropical and Temperate Grasslands
Grasslands are typically classified as either tropical or temperate, mainly determined by climate. Tropical grasslands have scattered individual trees or shrubs and are found where the climate is warm or hot and annual rainfall is 50-130 cm per year. Tropical grasslands cover almost half of Africa, and parts of Australia, South American, Nepal and India.
Temperate grasslands lack trees or large shrubs, and grass is the dominant vegetation. The grassland prairies of North America are temperate grasslands as are the veldts of South Africa, the puszta of Hungary, the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay, and the steppes of the former Soviet Union. The temperature grasslands are much more variable from summer to winter and rainfall is less than in the tropics.
The Importance of Grasslands
Grasslands are among the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. While grasslands support some common plant life in the form of relatively abundant species of grasses, they also support a variety of wildlife and rare species. Within BC, grasslands are the rarest land cover type, covering only 1% of the province but disproportionately supports about one third of BC’s species at risk.
Grassland ecosystems in the Thompson Watershed provide critical habitat for many species which are nationally at risk, including the American badger (Endangered), burrowing owl (Endangered), sharp-tailed grouse and western rattlesnake (Threatened).
Grasslands also have an important role in climate change mitigation. Approximately 12% of Earth’s carbon stocks are in grasslands, and due to the susceptibility of forests to degradation through wildfires and droughts, grasslands may be a more reliable land-based carbon sink.
In addition, the cultural, heritage and recreational values of these grasslands to communities are immeasurable.
Threats to Grasslands
The diversity and occurrence of grasslands around the world, and the richness of species found within them is threatened by humans, mostly due to their conversion into agricultural land. Grassland soils are naturally fertile making them ideal for agricultural use, particularly for growing food crops and grazing livestock. Farms, rural towns and cities have been established on or near grasslands and continue to expand and develop as populations grow.
Grasslands are sensitive to climatic changes and vulnerable to climate change impacts. Even slight changes in temperature and precipitation will affect grasslands and the plants and animals inhabiting them. Wildlife found in fragmented grasslands will be particularly susceptible to loss of habitat due as opportunities for species to disperse in tandem with climate are limited. Dryer and hotter conditions may also lead to the encroachment of new species including invasives, and a greater risk of wildfire.
The impacts of these combined threats are being experienced across the globe and close to home, for example in 2006, grassland losses in specific ecosections within the Thompson Watershed were calculated to be up to 56%. From 1970 to 2016, grassland bird populations declined across Canada by 57%.
Burrowing Owl by Roger Chapman
What’s Being Done
Despite their importance to human health and economies, less than 10% percent of the world’s grasslands are protected. In the Thompson Watershed, it is increasingly important to conserve and steward much of the remaining grasslands. Here’s a snapshot of how TNCC and partners are working towards that goal.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada recognizes the urgency and has been working since 2008 to conserve heritage grasslands in the Thompson Watershed including:
TNCC is working on Conservation Planning for Climate Change, a multi-year initiative, in partnership with Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, to help identify key natural areas to protect across the Thompson Okanagan. By combining Indigenous knowledge and western science, and with the use of mapping technology, computer simulations and climate change modelling, the natural areas that require increased conservation efforts will be identified. The project focuses on grasslands, wetlands, the land wildlife use to travel between them, and areas of cultural importance. Sign up for our e-newsletters or follow us on social media to receive updates on this project.
Lac du Bois Grasslands by Grasslands Conservation Council of BC
February 2 marks World Wetlands Day and the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 and which now has a global membership of 172 countries. World Wetlands Day aims to increase public awareness of how much wetlands do for humanity and the planet, and to promote actions that will lead to their conservation, wise use, and restoration.
Wetlands are in Danger
Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies, and more. According to the Convention on Wetlands, nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Threats include development, grazing and climate change. Read our article for more on wetlands.
What We Can Do
Wetlands that have already been impacted can benefit from restoration. Benefits of restoring wetlands across the planet include:
replenished and filtered water supply
enhanced protection against floods and storms
more local and sustainable livelihoods, less poverty
Fully re-creating the benefits of a natural wetland may take time, but with restoration many harmful effects of degradation can be reversed. Successful wetland restoration projects follow these best practices:
What’s even better than restoring wetlands? Preventing their loss! To help protect wetlands in the Thompson Okanagan, TNCC is working in partnership with Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program on the multi-year initiative Conservation Planning for Climate Change. One of the initiative’s projects will be looking closely at where wetlands are currently found in the Thompson Watershed.
Little Shuswap Lake, Chase, BC. Photo by Ben den Engelsen on Unsplash.
We know climate change and the related changes in temperature, precipitation, drought, flooding and more will impact wetlands. Not only will wetlands change, but some will be more sensitive and less resilient to climate change than others. As a result, we are working on models to help us identify and protect the wetlands most resilient to climate change. Read more.
Pitch Your Wetlands Project for a 10,000 Euro Grant:If you have an idea for a project to benefit wetlands, you can pitch for the opportunity to receive a 10,000 euro grant from the Convention of Wetlands, provided by Danone. Applications are being accepted from February 2-March 2, 2023.
Did you know that the western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus) is the only venomous snake native to British Columbia? The western rattlesnake, also known as Northern Pacific rattlesnake, lives in in the valleys and grasslands of BC’s southern interior, including the grasslands of the Thompson and Nicola Watersheds.
This reptile plays an important role in healthy ecosystems by controlling rodents and providing a food source for other predators like large birds, coyotes and badgers.
These snakes use their environment to regulate their body temperature, resulting in them often basking along roadsides which frequently leads to their accidental death. The grasslands in the Thompson Watershed are being split up and, in many areas, have been lost completely, contributing to their vulnerability. To add the threats of habitat loss, fragmentation, and road mortality, rattlesnakes have a long and complex history of negative public perception, resulting in humans intentionally killing them.
Western rattlesnakes are threatened in Canada due to their declining populations and are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act and the province of BC’s Wildlife Act.
There is a variety of wetlands with different compositions of plants and animals, but they all share general characteristics, including poorly drained soils, hydrophytic (water-loving) vegetation, and various kinds of biological activity which are adapted to a wet environment. More specifically, wetlands include five primary freshwater types: bogs and fens (both are peatlands), swamps, marshes, and shallow open waters such as sloughs, ponds, and pot holes.
Wetland: area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water – National Geographic
Why do we need wetlands?
Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet and are important for a number of reasons.
1. Wetlands prevent floods and drought
Wetlands can act as natural flood prevention systems, capable of absorbing massive amounts of water during storms and guarding against erosion. By holding soils in place with their roots, wetland plants absorb the energy of waves, and break up the flow of stream or river currents.
During the wet season, wetlands soak up excess rain, snow, and surface water. In drier seasons, wetlands not only provide wildlife habitat, but also slowly release their stored waters into underground aquifers and streams. Wetlands are the source of groundwater recharge for many aquifers that serve as community water supplies.
2. Wetlands filter water
Wetlands act as natural filters, removing sediment and pollutants from the water. The primary way that wetlands filter water is by slowing the flow of water from the surrounding land, thereby preventing erosion and enabling the wetland plants more time to absorb the nutrients being carried by the water. This slowing of the flow also allows suspended sediment to settle to the bottom of the wetland, sending clearer water downstream.
3. Wetlands support rare animals and plants
Great basin spadefoot (toad)
Wetlands play a disproportionately important role among ecosystems in providing food, shelter, and safety for wildlife species. It is estimated that more than 50% of wildlife species in North America rely on access to wetland habitat for at least part of their lifecycles, and almost 35% of all rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife species are dependent on wetland ecosystems.
4. Wetlands store carbon
Wetlands sequester carbon from the atmosphere through plant photosynthesis. That carbon is held in the living vegetation as well as in litter, peats, organic soils, and sediments that have built up, in some instances, over thousands of years, playing a key role in regulating greenhouse gases and buffering the impacts of climate change.
The worrying state of wetlands
Regardless of their many values, wetlands have been converted to other uses at a rapid rate. Wetlands are filled to make way for housing and industry, are diked, drained and polluted by poor agriculture practices, and are dried through the construction of dams, roads and pipelines, limiting and often irreversibly altering wetland hydrology and habitats. Factor in increasing climate change impacts, and without protection and conservation, wetlands are severely at risk.
Photo: Katelyn Bissat
How we can help
Visit and appreciate the diversity in your local wetlands.
Participate in environmental stewardship initiatives, such as tree and shrub planting and litter clean-ups.
Support wetland conservation and citizen science initiatives.
This winter you may be able to spot footprints of the American badger in the snow in the Thompson-Nicola.
There are four subspecies of the American badger (Taxidea taxus), each inhabiting a distinct region of Canada. American badgers require grasslands to survive and thrive where they can burrow and feed on small animals, such as mice and squirrels.
The Thompson-Nicola region of BC hosts the western population of the Taxidea taxus jeffersonii. This population is endangered nationally due to its small and decreasing population size, with an estimated 150 to 245 adults.
One of the largest threats the American badgers face is development and other changes in land-use. Grasslands transitioned to agriculture and the growth of communities including new roads, split up the natural areas American badgers need to live. As their natural wildlife corridors are lost, they are forced to interact with humans more often leading to their death from being hit by vehicles on roads.
How to Help
The BC Badger Recovery Team is a group with representatives from federal and provincial governments, ranching and farming industries, research scientists, First Nations, and conservation organizations. Together they are monitoring the American badger population in BC and locating where to focus conservation efforts in the province. They ask for anyone who sees a badger, dead or alive, or badger burrows, to report sightings to Report-A-Badger. Recent successes include installing badger crossings.
Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a freshwater fish species native to Canada, naturally found in waterways from Alberta, north to the Northwest Territories and east to Nova Scotia. Yellow perch are invasive in BC but they have ended up here by accidental or intentional movement: through boats, people intentionally moving them, releasing them into waterways from aquariums and fish markets, and escaping from fishing lines as live bait. Once introduced into a new area, yellow perch can reproduce very quickly, with females laying up to 15,000 eggs at once. They spread rapidly as individuals swim to new waterways in search of food.
Yellow perch are harmful when in BC’s rivers and lakes. They are threatening native species as they feed more aggressively on tadpoles and other fish in their natural home waters. They also carry parasites that harm native fish species, reducing the overall health and biodiversity of the waterways.
How to Help
Here’s how you can stop the introduction and spread of this invasive species – and help protect the natural life found in the Thompson-Nicola’s lakes and rivers:
As world leaders gather in Montreal for the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), we are highlighting some of the amazing biodiversity found in the Thompson Watershed by featuring the top ten wildlife most at risk here.
The white sturgeon is an enormous, mysterious fish that dates back to prehistoric times. It is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, growing to 6m in length, and is the oldest living creature still found on Earth! The white sturgeon is Endangered globally and is only found on a handful of BC’s rivers. It has suffered over a 50% decline in the last three generations mainly caused by overfishing, dam construction, and loss of water quality due to pollution.*
Little Brown Myotis
The little brown myotis (bat) is globally classified as vulnerable. Half of its population lives in Canada where it is currently endangered. Wetlands are critical for this species but as wetlands are bring lost, so are their inhabitants. This small bat is also threatened by the deadly fungus white nose syndrome. Conservation of this bat, and the wetlands where it lives, is critical to prevent it from becoming extinct.
The spotted owl is found in the Thompson Watershed where it heavily depends on large, old trees for nesting. Spotted owl populations have declined dramatically in BC mainly due to the loss of old forests from logging. It is a nocturnal owl which feeds on small mammals and birds. The spotted owl is globally classified as vulnerable, and is endangered in Canada.
The western screech-owl is threatened in Canada and is a species of special concern in BC. Like the spotted owl, the western screech-owl depends mainly on large, old cottonwoods for nesting and foraging. These trees are mainly found in areas along streams, lakes and rivers, but due to development along shorelines, these habitats are rapidly declining.
The burrowing owl is endangered in Canada. They are typically found on grasslands which have diminished over time due to development and agriculture. They are also threatened by pesticides, motor collisions, and even hunting by cats and dogs. As a result, burrowing owl populations are being lost by nearly 4% every year.
The western rattlesnake’s population has declined so much that it is currently threatened across Canada. Like the burrowing owl, this species relies on the grasslands in the Thompson Watershed, which are being split up and have been lost completely in many areas. The western rattlesnake also faces the major challenge of road mortality. Almost 500,000 hectares of land in the Thompson Nicola Regional District have been designated critical habitat for this snake to help its protection.
Southern Mountain Caribou
Southern mountain caribou are threatened in Canada and Red listed in BC. They live in old growth forests and hard-to-access high alpine areas where they can more easily avoid predators. The caribou feed on lichen and in winter, when ground lichen is no longer available, they depend on tree lichen found in old-growth forests for food.
Great Basin Spadefoot
The Great Basin spadefoot is threatened in Canada. This species of toad is heavily dependent on the wetlands and grasslands found in the Thompson Watershed and uses wetlands for breeding and grasslands for foraging for food. Soils that crumble easily enable the spadefoot to dig burrows for safety, warmth and overwintering. The Thompson Watershed includes critical habitat legally designated for the protection of the Great Basin spadefoot toad.
The American badger subspecies found in the Thompson Watershed is endangered and fewer than 250 mature badgers are found in the western region. The American badger depends on expanses of grasslands to live but this habitat is being lost due to these areas being split up or cleared of native vegetation. Another very real problem contributing to the decline of the American badger is collisions with motorized vehicles. You can help the ongoing monitoring and support of badgers in BC by reporting sightings of badgers and their burrows to Report-A-Badger BC.
In 2011, the olive clubtail dragonfly was designated as Endangered by COSEWIC due to major threats including shoreline development, invasive species, pollution, and agricultural practices. In Canada, this extremely rare dragonfly with striking blue eyes has only been confirmed in the South Thompson, Christina Creek and three locations in the Okanagan. A sighting of the olive clubtail indicates the good health of a stream or river.
Supporting Biodiversity and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Biodiversity is a hot topic this month as world leaders convene in Montreal for The Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15). Much of our work relates to conservation of critical habitat for species at risk to help save the habitat and reduce biodiversity loss in the Thompson Watershed.
One of our core programs is a multi-year, collaborative initiative with the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program. The Conservation Planning for Climate Change in the Thompson Okanagan initiative connects conservation planning, Indigenous knowledge and climate change modelling to support sustainable land use decision-making.
As populations grow and land is developed, key natural areas are being lost. The lands, rivers, lakes and streams which are threatened are home to a variety of at-risk plants and animals; they provide clean water and food to communities and have cultural significance to Indigenous Peoples.
The Conservation Planning for Climate Change initiative will combine Indigenous ecological and cultural knowledge and western science to identify natural areas across the Thompson Okanagan that need more protection.
Work on the initiative is ramping up with Indigenous engagement well underway in an area around Kamloops. Meanwhile, resources are being added to the team at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan which will be collecting ecological and climate-related data to interweave with the Indigenous knowledge. By combining this Indigenous knowledge and western science, and with the use of mapping technology and computer simulations of future changes to climate, the natural areas that require increased conservation efforts will be identified.
ICA's Indigenous Climate Leadership Program: Nov 25-27
Indigenous Climate Action is now accepting applications for the Climate Leadership Program taking place November 25-27, 2022!
Do you self-identify as Indigenous?
Do you have a strong desire to create positive change in your community/organization?
Yes? Then this training is for you! This program is designed to focus on how climate change is impacting Indigenous communities and rights, and empower and uplift Indigenous peoples to become climate change leaders in their own communities. Subsidies are available. Read more and apply today.
On October 15, 2022, Estsék’ Environmental Services, Simpcw First Nation and the Thompson-Nicola Conservation Collaborative co-hosted a Grizzly Knowledge Learning Circle at Thompson River University’s Wells Gray Education and Research Station. Wells Gray is located within Simpcw’s caretaker area of responsibility within the Secwépemc Nation. Participants were welcomed to the event, and to Simpcw Territory by Counselors Amanda Celesta and Alison Green. Tom Dickinson, Professor Emeritus at TRU, welcomed them to the facility. Tina Donald, Simpcw Natural Resources Department Fish and Wildlife Manager was unable to attend but is a core member of the team.
Grizzly Bears are a blue-listed species in British Columbia and the last published population estimate of the species (2012) for the Wells Gray population, an estimated 317 individual bears. The project, which runs from 2021 to 2024, will increase our understanding of grizzlies in Wells Gray. Over the course of the next few years, grizzly population dynamics, historic and current cultural ties with Simpcwemc (the People of Simpcw), and the effects of land development due to human development in their territory, (e.g., increased human presence from Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and logging) will be evaluated. The data collected will inform the long-term monitoring trends for population management within Simpcwúl̓ecw (Simpcw Territory), and for Simpcwemc.
To obtain hair samples from grizzlies, the team spent the summer and early fall setting up, checking, and removing “bait” stations, which are non-reward (no food) scent mounds surrounded by a small, barbed wire fence. The scent mounds, composed of well-decomposed logs, moss, and sticks, are scented with rotted cows’ blood and fish, with a rotation of additional, ‘novel’ scents, such as anise oil and beaver castor. The bait stations are checked regularly, and any hair found on the barbed wire was collected for DNA analysis. This data will help staff determine how many individual grizzlies are in the area and in the long-term, inform Simpcw First Nation and their collaborators regarding land management decisions.
The Learning Circle began with a welcome song, by Paul Michel, Special Advisor to the TRU President on Indigenous Matters followed by a round table of introductions by everyone in attendance. Simpcw First Nation Councillor and Estsék’ Technician, Amanda Celesta, and Ceryne Staples, Ecosystems Biologist with Estsék’, shared information about the first year of the Grizzly Bear Study, which wrapped up in October. The Learning Circle participants enjoyed the teams’ stories of the season’s preliminary results. An open exchange followed which ranged from input into the study in the future to discussion of the behaviour of Grizzles and other wildlife in the area.
Members attending the event then had the opportunity to visit Edgewood Blue, a nearby property donated to the Land Conservancy of British Columbia by naturalist and lichenologist, Trevor Goward, where he explained the mission of the space as a place for youth to connect with and learn from nature.
Simpcw’s Grizzly Bear Study is funded by Natural Resources Canada through the Terrestrial Cumulative Effects Initiative (TCEI).
Grizzly Knowledge Learning Circle Participants Listen to Dr. Tom Dickinson
As the Thompson Watershed transitions through fall, you may be able to spot the flocks of the sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) on the roadside and underneath tree canopies searching for berries, their main source of food this time of year.
The sharp-tailed grouse depends on the grasslands of the Dry Interior for food, shelter, mating and breeding, and tends to be found in shrubby grasslands and in large openings in forests (such as sedge meadow complexes, major burns, and large clear-cuts). They eat mostly grasses, forbs (herbaceous, broadleaf plants), and seeds in the spring and summer, and supplement their diet with insects in fall.
Because many areas of grassland have been lost in BC and continue to be threatened by development, agriculture and forestry practices, the preservation of grasslands in the Thompson Watershed is important for the survival of this species.
In the spring, male grouse gather on traditional dancing ground (leks or lekking territories), to display themselves to nearby females. Males bend low to the ground and raise their tails up in the air while stamping their feet while making cooing noises that can be heard from over a kilometer away. Despite each male participating in this dance, only a select few of these males are successful in courting females who typically mate with older males with the most exciting dances. Males return to these display grounds year after year if undisturbed.
After mating ends in June, females move to nesting areas with a relatively dense cover of shrubs and grasses. After hatching chicks eat mostly insects and remain with their mothers in broods for six to eight weeks.
Due to the loss and fragmentation of grasslands, where they live, feed, mate and nest, the sharp-tailed grouse is blue-listed and a species of Special Concern in BC.
Photo: Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) by Stephen Olivier
Cultural Learning with Neskonlith Elder Minnie Kenoras Grinder
On October 6th, TNCC hosted an afternoon of cultural learning with Neskonlith Elder Minnie Kenoras Grinder near Phillips Lake, BC. This event was the one of several cultural learning opportunities offered by TNCC to our partners and advisors and we look forward to your participation in similar events in the future.
Participants who gathered for the experience on the land near Phillips Lake included representatives from the Province of British Columbia, Invasives Species Council of BC, Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, City of Kamloops and the TNCC team.
We gathered, seated in a circle by rushes on the edge of a small lake. After full introductions by all Elder Minnie Kenoras Grinder shared stories of growing up in the area, how she lived off the land including hunting, fishing, harvesting berries, roots, medicines and making baskets and crafts. We learned how the tules found next to us are traditionally used, including showing an example which she kindly brought. Minnie also shared the cultural significance of the area including the relevance of the tree next to us.
We each shared ideas of what activities and approaches are needed in the region for future collaboration and conservation in the Thompson Watershed.
We would like to especially thank Elder Minne Kenoras Grinder for sharing her knowledge and experiences with all of us, Shelley Witzky for facilitating this learning opportunity and all those who participated in this event. TNCC will share future cultural learning opportunities on this website, through our e-newsletter and on social media.
If you are out at night in the Thompson Watershed you may be able to hear the call of the Great Basin spadefoot toad (Spea intermontana), which resemble the words “gwaa, gwaa” and can be heard from hundreds of meters away.
Nationally, the range of this toad is restricted to the south-central interior of British Columbia, as it is highly adapted to dry grassland valleys, making the Thompson Watershed critical habitat for these toads. Additionally, these toads are even further restricted in their habitat within this dry interior to places with wetlands which they can use for breeding.
Outside of a small region which these toads can live, they also face major threats in their environment, including road mortality, pollution in the waterbodies they inhabit, and climate change increasing the chances for drought in the region, all of which contribute to their status as threatened species.
Outside of the water, this toad also requires loose, deep soils for burrowing in the winter season, which are readily available in the Thompson-Nicola and make this region a critical refuge for this at-risk species.
Over the past month TNCC has been collaborating the Kamloops Naturalists Club on an invasive weed control project at the Tranquille Wetland, located on the North Shore of the South Thompson River. Read this article to learn more about the history of the Secwépemc people and Tranquille, which is where the river widens to form Kamloops Lake.
This wetland, originally planted with reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) for cattle forage decades ago, is now overrun with the invasive grass species which forms a dense monoculture that chokes out native plants in the area.
Wetlands are rare on the landscape and provide important habitats for amphibians like the Great Basin Spadefoot, waterfowl and shorebirds. They also support invertebrates that feed many animals, like the Endangered Little Brown Myotis (bat)… Several studies suggest that low elevation wetlands… have declined by ~80%.
The Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC) has a plan to create a viewing platform in the wetland to encourage more people to become naturalists, learn about Secwépemc land use in the region, and learn about the native plants that would naturally be found in the area.
Tranquille Wildlife Management Area provides staging and resting habitat for the spring and fall migration of Canada goose, swans and other wetland species. Mallard, goldeneye and wood ducks nest in the area. In addition, shorebirds and passerine species are abundant. The presence of large numbers of prey species attracts raptors, including bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, and prairie, gyr and peregrine falcon. Mule deer, beaver, muskrat, coyote, black bear and river otter have been recorded in the area, but only coyote are sighted frequently. The flooded meadows support carp spawning habitat, and some salmonid rearing habitat. Rare species present include tall beggarticks, awned cyperus, small-flowered ipomopsis.
To control the reed canarygrass in the area and make way for this viewing platform, KNC enlisted the expertise of Dr. Catherine Tarasoff with Agrowest Consulting and help from volunteers to remove the stems of this grass and lay down a solid benthic barrier stretching a 75×35 ft area. This barrier smothers the invasive grass, preventing light and air from reaching the plants to reduce their growth.
This experimental method of control for reed canarygrass will be monitored for its efficacy of controlling the grasses and KNC will replant the region with native sedges and wildflowers to help with restoration.
The Thompson-Nicola Conservation Collaborative is getting active in the Watershed this fall. One way we are doing this is by helping Dr. Catherine Tarasoff from Agrowest Consulting and the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC (GCC) on a Lac Du Bois restoration project.
Grasslands account for less than one per cent of BC’s land mass, but are home to more than 30 per cent of the Province’s at-risk animal and plant species. The Lac du Bois grasslands are also home to invasive plants including spotted knapweed, sulphur cinquefoil and chicory. The Invasive Species Council of BC’s StrongerBC crew treated the invasive plants earlier in the summer in efforts to control their growth.
To help restoration of the treated areas, bluebunch wheatgrass plants were salvaged from a park and volunteers were recruited for the transplantation.
On September 21st, TNCC and KNC helped the staff and volunteers transplant 1,000 bluebunch wheatgrass plants into Lac Du Bois in hopes of restoring the area to native plants.
Read an article published on the restoration efforts by CBC. The project is funded by Environment Canada, the Grasslands Conservation Council of B.C.
On September 30th, the TNCC team visited Tsútswecw Provincial Park to witness the Little Shuswap Lake Band and neighbouring Secwépemc communities celebrate the return of the sockeye salmon to Adams River and simultaneously recognize National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Adams River, Sep 30, 2022
The sockeye salmon journey from the Pacific Ocean to Adams River to spawn, in what is the largest sockeye salmon run in North America. This year’s salmon run is the dominant run with around 14 million salmon.
Along the riverside the Little Shuswap Lake Band and neighbouring communities had several ceremonies celebrating the return of the sockeye to mark the opening day of the Salute to the Sockeye. The public had the chance to participate in some of the opening ceremonies, including one activity called the salmon dance where they clasped their hands together and made a fish movement to mimic the swimming pattern of salmon.
Accompanying the celebrations by the river were several speeches from various leaders from the Little Shuswap Lake Band, neighboring nations, and non-indigenous local leaders on what the importance of salute to sockeye and National Truth & Reconciliation Day mean to them.
Elder Ethel Billy of Cstalnec
Adding to these celebrations were various booths including educational interactive experiences set up by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the BC Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship and an interactive cabin run by the Adams River Salmon Society exploring the life cycle and incredible journey of these salmon.
Outside of education, an artisan market with local artists work were posted throughout the park and several food trucks provided a variety of food for the all attendees.
Danielle Toperczer, TNCC Program Manager
The Salute to the Sockeye events are still running till October 23rd. Take a trip out to Adams River to see the salmon run and experience Little Shuswap Lake Band and Secwépemc culture.
Did you know that World Rivers Day started off with one cleanup on the Thompson River and is now celebrated in over 100 countries? TNCC celebrated by participating in two events in the Thompson Watershed.
North Thompson Riverside Cleanup
On September 25, TNCC co-hosted a riverside cleanup with Kamloops Naturalists Club along the North Thompson at McArthur Island. The event encouraged the public to get involved in the cleanup of our riverbank and create an overall awareness of the importance of the Thompson, in additional to those in BC and throughout the world. The event also paid homage to the original BC Rivers Day which began with one cleanup event on the Thompson in 1980. In 2005, BC Rivers Day evolved to World Rivers Day and this year more than 100 countries across 6 continents participated in what has become one of the planet’s biggest environmental celebrations.
Kamloops School Rivers Day Celebration
On October 7th, our conservation stewardship intern Kimberly Parno and Melissa Maslany of the Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC) joined the Bert Edwards Elementary School of Science and Technology to celebrate their annual Rivers Day event. The event was also attended by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the City of Kamloops who shared the importance of rivers. Together the representatives hosted interactive activities with the students, including a watershed model, learning about salmon, microscope work, and Secwepemc teachings. KNC and TNCC led a scavenger hunt and bingo activity on the Thompson River’s plant and animal life, with Kimberly and Melissa teaching the students about the importance of biodiversity in river systems.
Honouring the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
Historically, Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 to recognize the impacts of the Indian Residential School on its survivors and intergenerational effects. On her first day attending Residential school, Phyllis Webstad wore an orange shirt that was taken away from her and never given back, what is now recognized as cultural genocide.
Orange Shirt Day is now recognized by the Canadian government as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This national recognition was a result of the 215 children’s remains found outside the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 2021 in unmarked graves and subsequent similar unmarked graves discovered around other Residential Schools across Canada.
September 30, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, is meant to commemorate the tragic and painful history of Indian Residential Schools and is part of the reconciliation process.
Read more on the Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s website.
TNCC’s team on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, 2022. Top left to bottom right, Shelley Witzky, Danielle Toperczer, Allyson Blake and Kimberly Parno.
Conservation Conversations with Rivers Day Founder Mark Angelo
In the days leading up to one of the the biggest conservation celebrations on the planet, we sat down with BC and World Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo to learn about how BC Rivers Day started on the Thompson River.
Q&A with Mark Angelo
Why is river conservation so important to you?
How did a cleanup on the Thompson River evolve?
How did BC Rivers Day become one of the largest conservation celebrations globally?
Mark’s thoughts on the values of waterways, the pressures that confront them, and what can be done to better conserve them.
About Mark Angelo
Mark Angelo hails from Burnaby, BC and is an internationally-celebrated river conservationist, writer, speaker, teacher and paddler. He is the founder and chair of both BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day, an event now embraced by millions of people in up to 100 countries. In 2009, Mark was also appointed as the inaugural chair of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Prior to that, he was the long-time head of the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program at BCIT. Mark has received the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada (his country’s highest honour) in recognition of his river conservation efforts over the past four decades. Among his many other awards are the inaugural United Nations Stewardship Award and the National River Conservation Award. Read more.
Connecting with Nature at Kamloops Children's Art Festival
On September 17, our conservation stewardship intern Kimberly Parno attended the 22nd Kamloops
Children’s Arts Festival to help connect families with nature through art.
Each year, the Kamloops Art Council hosts the event, providing a day of art, music, and theatre to children and families free of charge. This year TNCC took part with Kamloops Naturalist Club and NatureKids BC – Kamloops.
To match this year’s theme, we provided rivers and rainbows themed masks which the children coloured, choosing from a bear, a salmon, a rainbow, and a frog. Kids also made and wore their own salmon hats, colouring in salmon cut-outs and stapling the ends together to make a crown shaped salmon hat!
This was a great opportunity for TNCC to connect with the Kamloops community and talk about rivers and nature through arts and crafts.
If you go hiking through the Thompson Watershed, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the southern mountain caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). This population is threatened at the national level mainly due to industrial, commercial and recreational land use affecting caribou habitat.
Southern mountain caribou play an important role in the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples including spiritually, and as an important food source.
Southern mountain caribou rely on old-growth forests for survival, as these forests provide important habitat away from predators and provide their main food source, tree lichen. Caribou eat lichen year-round, but they especially depend on tree lichen during winter when snow cover prevents them from feeding on ground lichen. The Thompson-Nicola provides this critical habitat to these caribou in the winter when they need it most.
This project was supported through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is delivered by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Watersheds BC, with financial support from the Province of British Columbia.
Thanks to federal funding and contributions from the Real Estate Foundation of BC, the TNCC team is working on a Priority Ecosystems Mapping Project for the region, with an initial focus on areas surrounding the City of Kamloops. The funds are enabling the development of a regional ecosystem carbon capture ranking and prioritization tool, based on climate projections and modeling of grassland and wetland ecosystems that will be present in the long-term and provide high carbon sequestration and storage value.
The Priority Ecosystem Mapping Tool will be an important component of the Regional Conservation Strategy being developed over the next one-to-two years. This will include the development of environmental policies that support priorities for identifying, preserving and restoring important natural areas
Integral to TNCC’s work is co-leadership with Indigenous communities within the region on all conservation activities, consistent learning from Indigenous teachings, protocols, and relationship with the land, as well as education and outreach with partners and local governments to give nature a voice in land-use decisions and management. The Priority Ecosystems Mapping Project specifically aims to support capacity within Indigenous communities to ultimately strengthen planning and management for land and water, and build youth e.g. TNCC has also brought on board a Youth Intern who will engage with youth and Indigenous youth within the Thompson watershed. Look for more information in the upcoming newsletters.
Photo: Little Shuswap Lake, Chase, BC, by Ben den Engelsen on Unsplash.
Farmland Advantage - Protecting and Conserving BC's Natural Values
Farmland Advantage is a research and development project that works with farmers to conserve and enhance critical, natural values in British Columbia.
Farmland Advantage works with farmers to enhance the natural values on their land. These natural values are often referred to as ‘ecosystem services’; services of a natural environment that benefits humans. They are values that are not traded in the markets but have great value to us all. They can include areas like wetlands that filter and purify water, and forests that clean the air and provide habitat for healthy wildlife populations.
The project helps farmers identify the natural values which can be protected and enhanced, and develops recommendations and plans to preserve them. These plans can include actions such as water or stream setbacks, strategic fencing, reforestation, or rangeland enhancement. Farmers then carry out the recommendations, and Farmland Advantage helps to provide compensation based on successful implementation.
Farmland-Riparian Interface Stewardship Program (FRISP)
The Farmland-Riparian Interface Stewardship Program (FRISP) assists agricultural producers in their efforts to protect and enhance water quality, riparian vegetation, and fish habitat. The BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA), manages and delivers the program through a directed common goal approach to address watershed resource concerns, encouraging sustainable land management practices in support of the agricultural sector.
FRISP takes pride in supporting community involvement in all its projects through equipment sharing, dividing up certain contracts for shared workload, as well as involving high school students, industry partners and local non-profits groups in planting partnerships. This can create a great sense of community pride and awareness, focusing on functional watercourse systems and riparian management.
FRISP can help you with any identified riparian issue on your farm or ranch requiring attention or upgrade.
BC Wildlife Federation Offers Free Wetlands Restoration Training
The 2022 Wetlands Institute Workshop is a week-long boot camp for people who have a wetlands restoration project they want to pursue in their community. The B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF) offers the course free to qualified applicants from British Columbia, a $1,000 value.
This intensive training is aimed at consultants, planners, environmental / conservation groups, government representatives, First Nations, and landowners who could pursue a wetlands restoration now or in the near future.
BCWF’s experts offer hands-on training in planning, design and restoration work to facilitate the recovery and enhancement of wetlands throughout the province. This year’s workshops will take place in Grand Forks, Slocan Valley, and Trail beginning September 19, running through September 25.
If you’ve been on the South Thompson River in Kamloops you may have been fortunate enough to have seen the striking blue eyes of the olive clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus olivaceus). Entomologist Rob Cannings describes this medium-sized dragonfly as “the rarest of the rare” in his article for the Dragonfly Society of the Americas.
In 2011, this species was designated as endangered by COSEWIC and the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre classifies it as imperiled. Threats to this rare dragonfly include agricultural practices and shoreline development. A sighting of the olive clubtail could indeed indicate that a stream or river is in good health. Efforts to conserve populations of the olive clubtail will definitely benefit the entire ecosystem.
The olive clubtail is one of fifty-seven (57) taxa in Thompson-Nicola listed under the Species at Risk Act (Government of Canada 2002). Read more about the Conservation Status of Species and Ecosystems in the Thompson-Nicola in TNCC Resources.
In Our Backyard: A Coastal Shore Bird in the Grasslands?
Long-billed curlews are North America’s largest shorebird. In Canada, they breed in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the interior of BC. Approximately 16% of the long-billed curlew’s global breeding range is in Canada. The species is designated by the federal Species at Risk Act as a species of Special Concern. In BC, the curlew is Blue-listed and considered Vulnerable.
Long-billed curlews have a loud call that rises on the ending note, sounding like a “cur-lee”. They also have another vocalization described as a song, which is where the curlew gets its name. It sounds like “curleeeeeeeuuuuuu”. Listen to their distinct calls here.
Simpcw Resources Group Collaborates on Wildfire Rehabilitation
Working with the Ministry of Forests and Simpcw Band Entrepreneurs, the Forestry Department of Simpcw Resources Group is preparing, submitting, and implementing rehabilitation plans for several wildfires that burned near Clearwater and Vavenby, BC. This rehabilitation project aims to rehabilitate fireguards established during wildfire suppression efforts conducted during the 2021 wildfire season.
As part of the Wildfire Act and the Wildfire Regulation, rehabilitation measures are implemented through a site-specific rehabilitation plan aimed to mitigate fuel hazards, maintain natural drainage patterns, minimize erosion by water control, and stabilize exposed mineral soil. By carrying out these measures on fireguards, the environmental risk associated with fire ignition, fire spreading, and surface erosion can be mitigated. As seen by the devastating mudslides that occurred in November 2021, water run-off over these denuded soils can create hazardous conditions for life, property, and infrastructure. Using both mechanical techniques and reseeding measures, rehabilitation of the fireguards helps promote the regrowth of vegetation within these disturbed areas to help prevent future soil erosion.
Fireguard rehabilitation is a collaborative endeavor during all stages of the project. Stakeholders involved in this project include the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations; Simpcw Resources Group; and Simpcw. In addition, Simpcw member-owned businesses are involved in the project, participating in the rehabilitation construction work. The band entrepreneurs involved include G.L. Lampreau Contracting Ltd.
The benefits of this rehabilitation work are both environmental and economic. The community benefits by not only reducing environmental risks within Simpcw territory, but also providing job opportunities for Band entrepreneurs within the Thompson Rivers Natural Resource District.
TNCC Receives Funding for Priority Ecosystems Mapping
The TNCC is happy to announce that we have secured funding, including that from the Real Estate Foundation of BC, to conduct Priority Ecosystem Mapping within the Thompson Watershed. This project will help to identify areas of significant cultural and ecological value to focus conservation efforts on.
TNCC and Adams Lake Indian Band co-hosted a Field Tour on June 9, 2022, to educate participants about the historic and cultural practices on and around the Adams River and the innovative Salmon Enhancement program underway to bring salmon back to home waters.
Elder Lawrence Mitchel
We were privileged to have Elder Lawrence Mitchel welcome us to Secwepemc territory and share cultural teachings and practices on the land.
Our first presenter was Dave Norquist, Title and Rights and Natural Resource Director with Adams Lake Indian Band, who shared the history of salmonids (fish including salmon, trout and char) in the Adams Lake and river and talked about their use in the past and present day.
We were joined by Don Holmes of Lakeshore Environmental who shared the science behind the work underway by the Adams Lake Indian Band to conserve Sockeye salmon in Adams Lake. The Adams Lake Indian Band is working to restore the Upper Adams early summer run sockeye to a sustainable level and improve opportunities for sustainable use of the salmon. In a three-year program, nutrients are being added to the lake, under scientific direction, to increase food production for sockeye fry (baby sockeye) and smolts (young fish).
The program aims to increase the size of sockeye smolts to help improve their survival rates during ocean migration.
The main food source of young sockeye is zooplankton which feed on phytoplankton. The principal behind the project is to increase the phytoplankton in the lake by adding nutrients which should improve the growth of the smolts and ultimately improve ocean migration survival rates.
2020: Background information collected on the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of Adams Lake.
2021-2023: Nutrients added to the lake.
March 31, 2024: Project completion.
The results from the first year of nutrient addition (2021) indicated that the addition of the nutrients did result in the increased production of phytoplankton which should help the sockeye with their impressive migration.
In addition to being a valuable educational opportunity, the field tour was a great opportunity to connect with the land and with each other.
This project is supported by funding from the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.
Grasslands are near and dear to the Thompson Watershed. These biodiverse ecosystems vary greatly across the world and North America.
The Thompson Watershed encompasses the northern extent of the Palouse Prairie. Palouse Prairie ecosystems account for approximately 1% of British Columbia’s land base, yet approximately 42% (1190) of the 2854 vascular plant species that occur in British Columbia, supporting habitat for numerous animals. To find out more about BC grasslands, read this report from the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC.
Learning from Indigenous Knowledge Holders on the State and Future of Wild Pacific Salmon
Author Andrea Reid dives into research methodologies for conducting research on unceded territory regarding culturally significant topics. This article outlines Andrea’s own research and calls to question research processes moving forward.
“Indigenous knowledge is often considered by researchers to be anecdotal or too subjective, and thus of less value than the evidence produced by western science. While western science emphasizes the collection of large scale, generalizable and numerical data to look for trends in some natural phenomena, Indigenous knowledge systems prioritize highly specific, place-based information that is passed down across generations, based on observations and lived experiences of changes and cycles in nature.
When Indigenous knowledge is used by researchers, it is often to fill in the gaps of western science, and has rarely been done on Indigenous terms. With this study, I looked exclusively to Indigenous knowledge keepers for answers, putting respectful protocol and process at the forefront of the research.”
QGIS mapping program has become the go-to software for people that want to map and analyze geospatial data using a free, open source product. The program is easy to download and use but requires a bit of orientation for people that are new to mapping software. Introductory and second level courses are now available on-line. In this course the student meets with the instructor in a video-chat environment (Zoom). With screen sharing, they work through the basics. The usual time required for the on-line sessions is 5 hours and these can be scheduled into bite sized pieces scheduled to the convenience of the student.
Workshop: Indigenous Resources for Educators & Learners
In this online workshop on June 9, Jenna Jasek, Indigenous Advisor to The Outdoor Learning Store, will share her perspectives on some of her favourite Indigenous learning resources. Jenna is also the District Vice Principal of Indigenous Learning and Equity for Rocky Mountain School District No. 6. As an Indigenous person she is learning about her culture and loves learning about traditional teachings and knowledge of nature. She strives to provide students opportunities to explore, learn and immerse themselves in the outdoors and outdoor education.
The Adams River Salmon Society will be guiding Environmental Interpretive Walkabouts every Wednesday at 10am to 1pm from June 1 to September 28, 2022. These educational tours are presented through the Adams River Salmon Society Volunteers and Partners. The programs are free with a suggested small donation for The Adams River Salmon Society to help offset supplies and materials costs. Find out more information here.
Grassland Conservation Council's Day in the Grasslands
Join the Grassland Conservation Council (GCC) Board and GCC Chair, Bob Haywood-Farmer, and family, on their grasslands near Savona on June 18, 2022. During an afternoon session, you’ll hear about the ranch’s rich natural and cultural history and values, plus grassland ecology, fire recovery and more. Then stay for an exciting evening of dinner and live music!
Former Lieutenant Governor of BC, Hon. Judy Guichon, will be the keynote speaker for the evening followed by a line up of presentations and live music from Rob Dinwoodie.
Please find more information and the registration link here.
At the end of April, people all over the world participated in the annual City Nature Challenge – a friendly nature competition where cities compete to document the most observations, find the most species, and involve the most people.
This year, 67,220 people made 1,694,877 observations globally! Over 50,000 species were documented including more than 2,000 species at risk. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most observed species was the common dandelion! The Thompson-Nicola Region participated in the regional Northern Rocky Mountain Challenge and ranked 211th out of 445 cities for number of observations.
The real victory in the Thompson-Nicola was the overall increase in species observed and number of observers participating over last year! 1247 observations were made of 317 species by 64 observers this year compared to 568 observations of 231 species by 42 observers in 2021. Well done Thompson-Nicola!
People can’t stop “raven” about the birds around here… Did you know that 306 different species of birds can be spotted in Kamloops and surrounding areas throughout the year? Here’s a checklist to keep track of all your sightings and a list of great birding locations to spot the elusive ones you’ve been searching for.
The Coastal Douglas-fir Conservation Partnership hosted a winter webinar series on ‘Tools to Protect our Ecosystem Services’. These webinars are broadly applicable to conservation programs and actions across the province, including topics on community forests, reverse auctions, municipal natural assets, and integrating TEK in landscape connectivity. These webinars can be viewed on the CDFCP website.
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative is exploring land-based reconciliation through Ethical Space. They have hosted webinars exploring Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA’s) and context and consideration of Ethical space in conservation. Recording from these webinars and further learning recourses can be found here. Here is a background article on How Indigenous Protected Areas Can Help Build a Better BC.
The new BC Reptiles & Amphibians website is a collaborative venture between Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ECCS). This new tool provides descriptions and photos of all of BC’s ‘herpetofauna’ (reptiles and amphibians) and includes features such as newly-updated range maps, Indigenous knowledge and oral tales, and even a kids’ section. This project was overseen by Dr. Karl Larsen of TRU and Dr. Leigh Anne Isaac from ECCS, with help from students at TRU in the Masters of Environmental Science program and Devin Martin from Computer Sciences. The team hopes the website will further knowledge on reptiles and amphibians, and aid in the conservation of this important sector of BC’s wildlife.
The BC Parks draft Fire Management Plan for Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area is ready for review and comments! To provide your inputs, the next virtual public engagement forum will be on April 26. If you wish to attend, please contact us for the zoom link.
If you’d like to brush up on your wildfire science before completing the survey, please follow this link.
You can become an environmental leader in your community! The Invasive Species Council of BC has youth (ages 15 – 30) volunteer programs throughout BC. The more of us that become leaders in our community, the more problems we can solve. Be inspired and grow your leadership skills! If you are interested in learning more about the programs and activities available, please visit the ISCBC volunteer web page.
Help Influence and Shape Conservation in the Thompson Watershed!
As partners in conservation, it is vital that we all work together to communicate, share and define what conservation means to us in the Thompson watersheds. This April, you’re invited to join us for facilitated networking, learning and the building of a 3- Year Conservation Strategy to identify common conservation goals and collaborative actions in the Thompson-Nicola.
Workshop #1: Partners in Conservation – This interactive workshop is open to all interested participants. This workshop is intended as an introduction to the key conservation themes that will be discussed in workshops #2-7 and is an opportunity to learn from, and set the foundation, for respectful and community-based dialogue and decision-making. Workshop date is April 14 from 9-12pm.
Workshops #2-7: Building a 3-Year Conservation Strategy – Partners are invited to participate in ANY or ALL workshop sessions focused on key themes related to conservation. Proposed session themes include:
April 20: Science and knowledge-sharing, including Western and Indigenous Knowledge (9-12pm)
Habitat and species restoration and enhancement (1-4pm)
April 21: Stewardship on Crown and private lands (9-12pm) Education and outreach (1-4pm)
April 25: Securement and management of conservation lands (9-12pm) Land use policy and planning (1-4pm)
Registration deadline for Workshops #1-7 is April 12, 2022.
Conservation Strategy Summary Workshop – In this final workshop on May 9, key outcomes of workshops #2-7 will be presented and summarized for the building of a 3- Year Conservation Strategy. Registration deadline is May 3, 2022.
We greatly appreciate your participation during these important workshops. By taking the time to provide your input, you are helping to influence and shape conservation in the Thompson watersheds! To register, please visit: Workshop Registration
*Please note that pre-registration is required for all workshops.
We have a new look and name! Thompson-Nicola Conservation Initiative is now officially Thompson-Nicola Conservation Collaborative. Thanks to input from partners, we now have a new name and logo that we feel is not only beautiful but is representative of the special region that we are all working to conserve. We hope you love it as much as we do!
Adams Lake Indian Band's Salmon Enhancement Program
The Adams Lake Indian Band, with funding provided through the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, is working to restore the Upper Adams early summer run sockeye to a sustainable level and improve opportunities for sustainable use. Nutrients will be added to the lake under scientific direction to increase food production for sockeye fry and smolts.
In 2020, background information was collected on the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of Adams Lake. Nutrient addition was initiated in 2021 and will continue through 2023 with the projected end of the program planned for March 31st, 2024.
Results from the first year of nutrient addition in 2021, indicated that the addition of nutrients resulted in increased production of phytoplankton which is the main food source for zooplankton in the lake. Zooplankton is the main food source for young sockeye and will allow for better growth in the smolts. The increased size of the sockeye smolts will result in better survival rates on their ocean migration.
For more information, contact:
Don Holmes, Lakeshore Environmental at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Dave Nordquist, Title and Rights and Natural Resource Director, Adams Lake Indian Band at: email@example.com
A full grown pelican can stand 5 feet high with a wingspan of up to 9 feet, making them the second largest bird in North America! White pelicans can be spotted in Cooney Bay, Kamloops BC, during their migration in spring and summer before they return to Southern U.S. for winter.
Kootenay Conservation Program Winter Webinar Series
The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) is offering a four-part webinar series, ‘Building Restoration & Enhancement Projects that Make a Difference’, that covers topics including what makes a well-developed restoration project, how to build climate resiliency into your projects, and how to develop effective monitoring and evaluation of your project’s results. For details on the individual webinars visit the registration page. This Winter Webinar Series is hosted by KCP and Columbia Basin Trust with support from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program.
The TNCI is off to a great start with more than 50 partner agencies, organizations and communities and a 15 person Coordination Team. We are excited to continue building partnerships, and creating planning and educational resources in 2022. We’ll be taking input and feedback on key conservation-related actions and priorities within the region and look forward to strengthening partnerships that will help minimize impacts of climate change, fragmentation, habitat loss and invasive species in the region’s ecosystems.
In January, we were grateful to be invited to attend and speak with Pespesellkwe te Secwepemc Campfire community representatives, comprising of Adams Lake Indian Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band, Splatsin and Neskonlith. By ensuring that Indigenous traditional values and knowledge are honoured and applied to projects and programs, we will all see conservation successes and gains within the region.
Stay tuned in 2022 for educational workshops, webinars, social media and more!
Image: Grasslands Nicola Valley Credit Robyn Reudink
Barred owls are a provincially yellow-listed species that require large, contiguous mature forest habitat and have been negatively impacted by severe fragmentation and habitat loss in parts of their range. They are known for their large repertoire of vocalizations including the most frequently heard call that sounds much like “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”.
We are pleased to welcome Danielle Toperczer as the TNCC’s Program Manager. Danielle has a passion for connecting and facilitating community and stakeholder groups to meet conservation goals and looks forward to working with the diverse agencies, organizations and other partners throughout the region. Over the last 15 years she has worked extensively with non-profit leadership and management, both as staff and a Board member. As Danielle and her family have worked and travelled throughout the Thompson-Nicola region, she has gained a deep appreciation for its people and places and is excited to use her skills and experience to help advance the region’s collaborative conservation efforts.
The Need for a Collaborative Conservation Partnership
In 2020, recognizing the need to strengthen regional conservation efforts in the Thompson-Nicola, several conservation organizations began exploring the need for a collaborative conservation partnership. A Working Group, funded in part by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and Environment and Climate Change Canada, conducted more than 80 interviews with over 60 diverse agencies, organizations, and Indigenous communities to explore options for collaboration among conservation-focused groups. These interviews indicated strong support for the development of the Thompson-Nicola Conservation Initiative (TNCI) – an independent, member-driven organization focused on increasing capacity for collaborative conservation efforts in the Thompson-Nicola. For more information and to access interview and workshop results and more, visit: totabc.org/tnci.