A year after its Nelson office was closed, sending a ripple of dismay through the environmental community, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) has confirmed a $4 million budget and key projects for 2012-2013 in the Columbia Region.
Funds are provided through BC Hydro, and managed in a partnership with the province of British Columbia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
A statement from the program identified a number of priority local conservation and restoration projects. They include include:
- nutrient restoration in Arrow Lakes Reservoir and Kootenay Lake;
- maintenance and monitoring of the Hill Creek and Meadow Creek spawning channels;
- contributions to the Upper Columbia White Sturgeon culture program;
- ecosystem enhancement programs for wildlife in the East and West Kootenays;
- funding to acquire and ongoing management of conservation lands; and
- large mammal monitoring (elk, moose), and support for caribou recovery.
A new delivery model for the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program is being developed to create greater consistency while recognizing unique objectives in each of three regions that the program operates: the Columbia, Coastal and Peace. The new model for the Columbia region is being developed by the Columbia Steering Committee with membership from the public, First Nations and FWCP partner agencies, including input from local stakeholders.
“Local input and continued decision-making through regional steering committees is an important principle for delivery Edie Thome, Director of Environmental Risk Management at BC Hydro, said in a statement
“The program will continue to collaborate and work with First Nations and local government, community and environmental groups to ensure the success of the FWCP and its projects.”
Throughout late February and March, twenty stakeholder and First Nation meetings were held in the Columbia region to gather input on the new design and delivery model to address regional priorities.
Dave Dunbar, a wildlife biologist formerly with the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, was retained to oversee the discussions and ensure effective participation from all parties attending the meetings. The program is also currently advertising for a public representative to participate on the steering committee.
A second phase of stakeholder meetings will be held by early summer. It is expected that the new delivery model for the program will be announced in the fall.
The regional office based in Nelson was officially closed at the end of March. Almost all impacted employees have found alternative employment within BC Hydro or the provincial government in their respective fields and many will continue to work on FWCP projects and programs while work continues on establishing a longer-term delivery model.
To date, the FWCP has delivered more than 700 projects across the province that conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and their supporting habitats affected by the creation of BC Hydro owned and operated generation facilities in three regions of BC – Columbia, Coastal and Peace. More than $100 million has been invested in projects since 1988.
For more information visit fwcp.ca.