Fisheries and wildlife habitat enhancement projects across the Cariboo Chilcotin are being made possible through the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF).
The investments are part of the foundation’s total $9.2 million in funding for 180 projects in 2020-2021.
“The majority of our funding comes from surcharges from hunting, fishing, guiding and trapping licences,” said Dan Buffet, chief executive officer of HCTF. “There is additional funding from creative sentences, and that includes things like court awards. We also have other funding from the province.”
Additionally, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) contributed $1.9 million and has been partnering with the HCTF for many years.
In the Cariboo Chilcotin region one project will assess high-elevation forest harvesting strategies to maintain caribou and moose habitat, a second project will conduct restoration, planning and prescriptions to benefit the Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd by rehabilitating roads to deter predator movement. A third project will focus on functional road rehabilitation for moose habitat enhancement as identified by Nazko First Nation and ?Esdilagh First Nation in collaboration with the Quesnel Natural Resource District.
Several projects related to fisheries will focus on lake aeration, a mid-Fraser River sturgeon habitat assessment, bull trout monitoring, quality water strategies for rivers, lake trout, rainbow trout studies and invasive mussel monitoring.
Steve Kozuki, executive director of FESBC, said one of his organization’s objectives is to improve wildlife habitat.
“We concluded that the most effective way we could use our funding was to combine it with the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. This organization with all its expertise already existed.”
He said FESBC approached HCTF to support the funding program.
“It was really a natural fit for us to partner with them,” he said.
Buffet said HCTF accepts proposals from anybody by the deadline each year in November.
A technical team made up of representatives from the government, third parties and NGOs vets the proposals, and brings the best ones to the board for review and making the funding decisions.
The two-step review process was established years ago, he added.
“Those people who are leading the projects on the ground can be universities, First Nations, government and NGOs. For us it’s about bringing this money together and finding good projects and giving the money to those experts in the field that are delivering projects for fish habitat and wildlife.”
Normally they receive twice the amount of proposals they fund.
Some are multi-year proposals and are approved a year at a time based on results and others may be one-year projects.
Formerly with Duck’s Unlimited for 25 years as a wetlands biologist, Buffet replaced Brian Springinotic who retired this year. HCTF was founded almost 40 years ago, has funded 3,000 projects to the tune of $189 million over that time period.