Public to help with East Kootenay-Koocanusa fish & wildlife plan

The public is invited to public workshops in Fernie and Cranbrook this December to discuss a plan to help conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in the East Kootenay-Koocanusa region.

The initiative is the first task for the recently announced East Kootenay-Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program, a partnership between Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).

When complete in 2014, a Watershed Action Plan will incorporate community- and science-based goals, objectives and actions that aim to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in the East Kootenay and Koocanusa area, including the upper Kootenay River watershed, associated tributaries and Koocanusa Reservoir.

The plan will outline specific actions to support and enhance lakes, streams, riparian areas, wetlands and upland and dryland areas, as well as species of interest.

"Area residents have been asking for this type of action plan to address their concerns, and it's great news that it's getting under way and residents have a chance to be part of the discussion," said Dave White, the FWCP-Columbia Board member representing the East Kootenay.

White added that while the region is impacted by the likes of hydroelectric operations at Libby Dam in Montana, the program will take a broad watershed-based approach.

See the East Kootenay-Koocanusa backgrounder

Workshops set for December 9 and 10

The public is invited to provide input and ideas at upcoming free workshops, and no registration is required. Another feedback option is via an online feedback form available at - with an input deadline of January 6, 2014.

Here are details of the two public workshops, which feature both afternoon and evening sessions:

Monday, December 9 at Stanford Fernie Resort, 100 Riverside Way
AFTERNOON: Drop-in open house: 2-2:30 p.m; Community workshop: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
EVENING: Drop-in open house: 6:30-7 p.m.; Community workshop: 7-9 p.m.

Tuesday, December 10 at Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, 209 Van Horne Street South
AFTERNOON: Drop-in open house: 2-2:30 p.m.; Community workshop: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
EVENING: Drop-in open house: 6:30-7 p.m.; Community workshop: 7-9 p.m.

"The environmental health of this region is important to residents," said Neil Muth, CBT President and CEO. "CBT provided $3 million in one-time funding to initiate this important work; now it’s time for the community at large to have its say and become involved."

Residents will have more opportunities to provide input at a later date, and the draft Watershed Action Plan will be available for public review in late winter 2014.

BACKGROUNDER: East Kootenay-Koocanusa Fish & Wildlife Program

Columbia Basin Trust and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program partner to conserve and enhance the region's environment.

  • As a result of Koocanusa Reservoir being created by a U.S. dam and the fact that there is no water licence associated with Libby Dam issued by the Province of BC, there is currently no fish and wildlife compensation program associated with the historical footprint impacts of Koocanusa Reservoir in Canada.
  • An East Kootenay-Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program (EKKFWP) has been identified by Basin residents as a regional priority through a variety of processes including the Columbia River Treaty community education/consultation sessions currently underway. This has been a long-standing issue identified by both public residents and agencies alike.
  • Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has approved funding of $3 million for the purposes of establishing the EKKFWP. This funding is a one-time amount to be expended over a period of time not exceeding five years.
  • The existing FWCP delivery framework will be used to support implementation and delivery of the EKKFWP. The FWCP has a long history of delivering similar programs elsewhere in the Basin and the Province, and has a delivery framework already in place. The FWCP is managed through a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of British Columbia, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and their supporting habitats affected by the creation of BC Hydro owned and operated generation facilities in the Coastal, Columbia and Peace regions of British Columbia. By building on this existing framework, cost savings can be realized and an effective, integrated approach can be taken for delivering this new program.
  • The geographic scope of the EKKFWP is based on a watershed boundary approach. The scope of this program is the Kootenay River drainage and its associated tributaries above the 49th parallel. This will exclude the Kootenay River as it re-enters Canada in the Creston and Kootenay Lake area. It will also exclude the Flathead River Basin in Canada. It will include major tributaries such as the Elk, Bull, St. Mary’s, Lussier, White and Wigwam rivers and the Koocanusa Reservoir itself. See a map at
  • CBT funds will be directed toward fish and wildlife habitat conservation and restoration activities within the defined geographic scope.

Developing a Watershed Action Plan

The next step is to develop a Watershed Action Plan (WAP) for the East Kootenay-Koocanusa Fish and Wildlife Program that will set community- and science-based goals, outcomes and proposed activities to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife. This planning framework is already being used by the FWCP in other watersheds.

A Working Group made up of representatives from CBT, the FWCP Board, provincial government agencies, First Nations, local governments, industry and community groups within the EKKFWP geographic area will provide input and support the development of the Watershed Action Plan.

Development of the Watershed Action Plan will involve:

  1. A technical review and evaluation of fish and wildlife issues in the East Kootenay-Koocanusa region. The WAP will be structured to highlight priorities for ecosystems (lakes, streams, riparian areas/wetlands, upland/dryland areas) and species of interest.  
  2. Input from public, First Nations, and stakeholders on high priority fish and wildlife issues of the East Koootenay-Koocanusa region through a series of engagement workshops throughout the area;
  3. Incorporation of public, First Nations, and stakeholders into the draft Watershed Action Plan (WAP);
  4. Review of the draft WAP by public, First Nations, and stakeholders. Comments on the draft WAP will be collected through email and websites (CBT, FWCP, VAST), as well as at public open house gatherings where people can provide feedback;
  5. Incorporation of review comments by public, First Nations, and stakeholders into a final WAP.

Tentative timeline for development of the WAP

  • Face-to-Face Public, First Nations, and Stakeholder engagement workshops: November to December
  • Online surveys (to gather information about fish and wildlife concerns): November to January
  • Deadline for public input: January 6, 2014
  • Draft WAP (available online for comment): February
  • Draft WAP review by Public, First Nations, and Stakeholders: March
  • Open House for feedback on Draft WAP: April
  • Final WAP (to be made available online): April 30th

For additional information, please contact:

Kindy Gosal
CBT, Director Special Initiatives
250 344 7015

Trevor Oussoren
FWCP-Columbia, Program Manager
250 365 4551