The BC Wildlife Federation WEP team spent July 16 – 28 in North-Eastern BC educating participants on wetland classification, designing wetland restoration projects, and most importantly, building lasting relationships to collectively work towards conservation. We partnered with local First Nations, consulting companies, the provincial government, and very keen members of the public in numerous communities throughout this initiative.
Our first stop was Moberly Lake, where we partnered with the West Moberly First Nations and the Saulteau First Nations to host a Wetlandkeepers workshop. Elder George Dejarlais (from West Moberly FN) offered an opening prayer and Saulteau First Nations graciously provided the venue and catered the event. In the first day, aside from covering wetland classification training, we took time with the group to discuss issues regarding historic and current land management impacts to wetlands and local watersheds, and concerns for wildlife populations including moose and caribou. We also heard about how these environmental impacts affect First Nations culture & health. So aside from the typical training that we usually provide, our workshop also allowed for some airing out of some deep wounds and an opportunity to discuss ways we can move forward. It provided a space for cross-cultural dialogue and an opportunity to empower local communities to restore and conserve wetlands as part of the healing process.
Guest speakers included Tyson Carswell, from BC-MOE, who shared information and sought feedback on a Predictive Wetland Mapping product developed for the Williston reservoir watershed (A Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Initiative); Audrey Gagne-Delorme, who shared information about moose inventory and moose habitat requirements; and, Tom Biebighauser, who offered hands-on training on wetland restoration techniques. On the second day, the group designed a wetland on a wet agricultural field dominated by Reed Canary Grass on Saulteau First Nation land. At the end of the official workshop, participants were invited to attend another day of restoration design work at an abandoned well site for oil and gas development – a project led that is being managed by Twin Nations Restoration – a collaborative company between West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations. Both sites were designed to provide improved habitat for moose.
Our next workshop was hosted in Mackenzie where we partnered with DWB Consulting Ltd and the Mackenzie Fish and Game Association. On Saturday morning, participants headed over to the Mackenzie Nature Observatory by Mugaha Marsh to learn about the long-term volunteer driven bird banding and research monitoring program led by Vi and Dave Lambie. This was followed by a day of wetland classification with BC Wildlife Federation staff (Maureen and Neil). On the following day, guest speaker, Mark Thompson, Senior Research Ecologist with DWB Consulting, shed light on the amphibian research that he has been conducting in the Williston Reservoir. His research aims to track various amphibians in the North, such as the Long-toed Salamander and monitor their populations and habitat requirements. Tyson Carswell (wetland mapping) and Tom Biebighauser (wetland restoration) were other key speakers during the workshop offering similar training to what occurred at Moberly Lake.
Near the end of the weekend, one participant offered to spearhead the design of a wetland at her local elementary school, Morfee Elementary. With the help of Restoration Specialist, Tom Biebighauser, we were able to complete the initial field site investigation and determine next steps for executing the project before the course had ended.
To end off our July wetland tour, we partnered with Chu Cho Environmental and the Tsay Keh Dene First Nations Band to discuss wetland restoration opportunities through a meeting held in Prince George with Tom Biebighauser, as well as to deliver a Wetlandkeepers workshop in Tsay Keh Dene. Tsay Keh Dene is a community of roughly 175 people who reside on the northern tip of the Williston Reservoir. Our visit provided those employed by the nation how to classify wetlands and determine the health of various sites, as well as, thanks to a presentation offered by Mark Thompson with DWB Consulting, learn about current mitigation practices for salvaging amphibians on project management sites. Chu Cho Environmental Resource technicians, Chu Cho Forestry staff, and Lands, Resource, and Treaty Operations staff were in attendance and will be able to use their newly acquired skills in different areas of their work. During our visit, we discussed opportunities to restore wetland sites both within the footprint of the reservoir and within the watershed – both which will require additional planning and community involvement.
This entire initiative, from Moberly Lake to Tsay Keh Dene, was completed in a packed 2 week window. We were inspired by the individuals who we met along the way, we share their passion for wetland conservation, and we are grateful for the partnerships that we fostered. The WEP team is very excited to see how the participants and their own conservation projects take shape in the coming year.
THESE PROJECTS WERE UNDERTAKEN WITH THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF:
/ CE PROJET A ÉTÉ RÉALISÉ AVEC L’APPUI FINANCIER DE:
ADDITIONALLY, THE TSAY KEH DENE AND MOBERLY LAKE WETLANDKEEPERS WORKSHOPS WERE PROVIDED FUNDING FROM: