The action plan doesn’t only concern fish populations, but other wildlife affected by habitat change. Photo: BCHydro

BC Hydro seeks input on fish and wildlife programs

Upcoming meetings in Castlegar, Kaslo

BC Hydro wants to hear from West Kootenay citizens about what it can do to better protect and rehabilitate fish and wildlife populations affected by hydro dams.

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program is hosting workshops and online information sessions to discuss updates to its Columbia region action plans. The ecosystem-based action plans guide close to $6 million a year toward fish and wildlife projects in watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams.

Meetings are scheduled for April 17 at the Castlegar public forum and April 18 at St. Andrew’s United Church Heritage Hall in Kaslo.

“We’re looking for the public to comment on some of the draft priority actions we’re proposing, and we’d like to hear their comment on any new or additional ideas they’d like us to consider,” says Lynne Betts, the communications coordinator for the program. “We’re looking for ideas that are appropriate for our geographic area, for our scope and our mission and mandate.”

The updated plans will define the program’s priority actions for fish and wildlife and support funding decisions in the Columbia region for the next several years.

The first set of action plans — they’re divided between large and small lakes, river systems, species of interest and other categories — were first drawn up in 2014.

A lot has changed in the last five years, and Betts says the planning reflects that.

“We are trying to consider how we are putting a climate-change lens on the projects, what can we do that might be appropriate for us,” she says. “There’s a more engaged indigenous voice in the Columbia Basin now, and that didn’t happen as much in 2014.

“We want to have more monitoring and evaluation actions, more habitat-based actions — so more hands-on actions — and we’ve tried to strengthen the linkages to address dam impacts.”

Input from First Nations, agencies, stewardship groups, and others is central to the discussion about updating the plans and program priorities for the Columbia region, Betts says.

The plan doesn’t necessarily address a specific project for a lake or river but rather sets a priority, and then let’s proposals come that address it.

“These are not necessarily project descriptions, these are the types of things that we’d like to do that then translate into projects,” says Betts.

The final updated action plans, to be completed by August, will include priority actions that support our strategic objectives, mission, and vision.

Current action plans are available at fwcp.ca/action-plans-columbia-region. Draft action plans will be available for public comment in early summer.

The workshops start at 1 p.m. and adjourn by 4:30 p.m. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. A light lunch will be provided.

An online feedback form is available at fwcp.ca/action-plans-columbia-region until May 3.

If you can’t make it to a workshop, consider coming to the evening open house to learn more about the program, projects underway, action plans, and how you can apply for a grant. The open house is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with a short presentation at 6 p.m.

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