A regional program designed to protect species at risk habitat is receiving $2 million in funding from the federal government for four conservation projects in the East and West Kootenays.
Kootenay Connect, the recipient of the funding, will help protect and restore habitat and ecological connectivity, which focuses on Bonanza Biodiversity Corridor (between Nakusp and New Denver), Creston Valley, Wycliffe and Columbia Valley.
The funding, provided through the Nature Legacy’s Canada Nature Fund, will support 28 species at risk including grizzly bears, western screech-owls, American badgers, and many more, according to a press release from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
“Conserving habitat for 28 species at risk – including grizzly bears and American badgers – is a necessary step to support the survival of these iconic animals, while protecting nature and fighting climate change,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“This on-the-ground work led by the Kootenay Conservation Program showcases what can be achieved for Canada’s biodiversity through collaboration. By working together with local communities, we are working towards Canada’s goal of protecting a quarter of our lands and a quarter of our oceans by 2025.”
The funding will be spread out over the next four years and be used to identify, restore and protect wetland, riparian and other sensitive habitats covering nearly one million hectares.
“We appreciate the ‘community-nominated’ aspect of Canada Nature Fund that relied upon our local scientific assessments of what is important for landscape-level conservation in our region to improve the conservation status of suites of federally-listed species at risk and their habitats,” said Marcy Mahr, Kootenay Connect Project Manager, Kootenay Conservation Program.
“This multi-year funding for Kootenay Connect has enabled the Kootenay Conservation Program to build a regional team of 25 partners such as conservation land trusts, stewardship groups, independent biologists and First Nations who have collaboratively developed a package of over 50 inter-related subprojects that target real-world conservation issues with on-the ground restoration and enhancement actions.”