CONSERVATION PROJECTS IN PEACE RIVER BASIN RECEIVE FUNDING
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By Michelle Moore
The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) of British Columbia has announced funding for seven conservation projects in the Peace River and Williston Reservoir watershed.
Each organization will receive nearly $260 000 to support wildlife in the area like caribou, moose, fish and birds, as well as to provide environmental education.
The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and First Nations with the goal to improve and conserve areas impacted by hydroelectric dams.
According to International Rivers, hydro dams can bring major changes to a region through its construction, operation and the flooding of large areas of forest to create reservoirs.
They can also potentially hinder fish migration, alter water temperature and flow, and trap sediments important to the health of coastal wetlands, and floodplains.
The Peace Region includes the communities of Mackenzie, McLeod Lake, Hudson's Hope, Tsay Keh Village, and Fort Ware with others, as well as the territories of many First Nations in the region.
Funding applications are considered by the FWCP Peace board members along with the FWCP First Nations' Working Group with representatives from Tsay Keh Dene, Kwadacha, Nak'azdli, McLeod Lake, Saulteau, West Moberly, Doig River, Prophet River and Treaty 8 Tribal Association.
The FWCP favours projects that are cost effective, technically detailed and focus on watershed health. Past projects have included controlled burns, bird monitoring, environmental education and maintaining waterfowl nesting sites.
"Through the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program our government is helping to preserve these habitats and educate our citizens about their importance. Environmental stewardship ... is at the core of responsible development of the natural resource sector", said Mike Bernier, MLA for Peace River South.
Led by the provincial government, one project that has been receiving funding for the last three years intends to locate and classify the wetlands and riparian areas that have been affected by hydro dams in the Williston and Dinosaur Reservoir watersheds.
Over 7.3 million hectares or 18 million acres, have been mapped using a machine-learning algorithm that has proven a 90% success rate for determining the location of wetlands and other water features.
Satellite photos were taken to gather spatial date that identifies the topography and vegetation of different areas. The project is currently in its second phase aimed at refining the accuracy of the modelling used.
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