VANCOUVER — The federal government is investing $2 million over four years to support species at risk and habitat protection in southeastern British Columbia.
Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of environment and climate change, says the funds are from the $1.3-billion nature legacy initiative included in the 2018 federal budget.
The latest funding announcement will support the work of the Kootenay Conservation Program to protect more than 10,000 square kilometres of wetland and other areas within four Kootenay regions.
Kootenay Connect project manager Marcy Mahr says 28 different species at risk live within the four regions; the Columbia Valley wetlands, Wycliffe wildlife corridor, Creston Valley and Bonanza biodiversity corridor.
Wilkinson says the species at risk in those regions include grizzly bear, the western screech owl and the American badger.
Mahr says they've had success in rebuilding endangered wildlife, including the northern leopard frogs where their wetlands were being choked by vegetation.
"The frog has used these restored wetlands to breed," says Mahr. Northern leopard frogs were once found widely across southeastern B.C., but now are only confirmed to breed near Creston, she says.
"As an unexpected bonus there were even enough eggs for some to be used in the reintroduction program to re-establish a population of these frogs in the Columbia wetlands, another focal area," she says.
Wilkinson says the government is focused "the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity lost," and it remains committed to its pledge of protecting one-quarter of Canada's marine and terrestrial areas by 2025.
"The on-the-ground work led by the Kootenay Conservation program certainly showcases what we can do for Canada's biodiversity by working together," says Wilkinson.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020.