WCTP puts out call for proposals

Waneta Expansion Terrestrial Compensation Program provides up to $50,000 for projects

Speaking to a scientist is a bit like hearing a foreign language: it’s difficult to understand without fluency in the same subject.

But the Waneta Expansion Terrestrial Compensation Program (WCTP) provides up to $50,000 annually to research projects that bridge those knowledge gaps by promoting restoration, and are currently accepting applications for 2013.

“It’s open to anybody, you don’t have to be a professional biologist,” spokesperson Audrey Repin explained. “As long as the project is located within the Waneta area.”

Repin noted that some people are confused by the diction behind the project’s title, but emphasized that anybody can apply. Applicants could range from researchers to educators, and topics can be equally diverse.

Previously groups have completed research and inventory projects about nighthawks, butterflies, plants and habitat restoration. During 2012 a group of five people were awarded funding for an assortment of projects.

“We thought the nighthawk project was good to take stock of because these birds have been assessed federally and they’re a species of concern,” Repin explained. “That’s exactly what was put in the proposal and there was no data available on nighthawks. So it wasn’t reinventing an idea that was already out there, and it’s supporting a particularly interesting group.”

Nighthawks are medium-sized birds, with long wings, short legs and very short bills. They usually nest on the ground and feed on flying insects.

With a population located in the Fort Shepherd region south of Trail, the WCTP funded Seepanee Ecological Consulting’s monitoring research project to gain a better understanding on a key piece of Greater Trail’s local ecology.

“These birds have been assessed federally as a species of concern,” said researcher Doris Hausleitner of Seepanee Ecological Consulting. “Yet, to our knowledge, there is no data out there describing the habitat needs for these birds during nesting. We hope to change that with this research.”

The birds are agile insectivores—active mostly at dusk and dawn—and are highly cryptic, making monitoring very difficult. However, the WCTP cash will help Seepanee build on existing data regarding the birds, as well as publishing their scientific findings.

The WTCP is a joint-venture shared between the Waneta Expansion Project, Fortis Inc., the Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia Basin Trust. Applications are being accepted for next year’s WTCP before Jan. 31 2013.