Seven caribou habitat restoration projects received a total of $1.1 million in funding from the B.C. government’s Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation on July 16.
The funds are part of an $8.5 million commitment by the province, over three years, to support such projects.
“Human activity, such as forestry, mining, oil and gas, and road-building work, has altered caribou habitat,” stated a release from the Ministry of Forests. “Examples of activities that help restore caribou habitat include planting trees to restore areas to a pre-disturbed state and blocking former roads and other linear features, such as seismic lines (corridors cleared of vegetation for oil and gas exploration), to reduce predator access.”
One of this year’s projects will see the restoration of an 11-kilometre of road in the upper Bigmouth Valley 130 kilometres north of Revelstoke, led by Yucwmenlúcwu, a Splatsin-owned resource management company.
Last year the company planted almost 9,000 trees along a 5 km stretch of road in the valley and it continues to monitor the site to evaluate tree growth as well as impacts on wildlife.
Another project, approximately 30 km southeast of Anahim Lake in central B.C., will see trees planted along roads to create barriers and deter predator movement. The project is designed to benefit the Itcha-Ilgachuz herd.
A third project, in the Tweedsmuir caribou winter range, which is in the Skeena region 60 km south of Burns Lake, will see barriers created as well as lichen transplanted to the area.
Lichen is the preferred food source of caribou.
West of Chetwynd the Nîkanêse Wah tzee Stewardship Society was granted funding for three projects in hopes of protecting the Moberly (Klinse-Za) and Scott East herds. They will be replanting roads in the area that were formerly used for oil and gas exploration as well as 14 km of road in another location and 1.6 km of road in yet another location, both north of Mackenzie.
The Fort Nelson First Nation Lands Department will be replanting an area about 80 km northeast of the community to limit predator use of seismic lines as well as increasing habitat suitability for the Snake-Sahtahneh caribou herd.
This announcement comes two days after a study was released stating government-sponsored wolf killings in Western Canada had “no detectable effect” on reversing the decline of endangered caribou populations. And instead, factors affecting population decline include loss of habitat, logging snowpack variation and snowmobiling.
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation will be accepting applications for caribou habitat restoration projects again in September 2020. The deadline is Nov. 6. Go to hctf.ca/grants/caribou-habitat-restoration-grants/ for more information.
*With files from Canadian Press