A program focused on restoring caribou habitats in British Columbia approved 14 grants during 2021, through funding from both the B.C. and federal governments.
Over $1.65 million was allocated in grants through the Caribou Habitat Restoration Fund (CHRF), which is monitored by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), a non-profit charitable organization, according to a press release from the B.C. government.
Mountain Caribou are at risk of extinction and 98 per cent of the global population lives in B.C., amounting to about 1,500 caribou in 15 separate herds throughout the province. The main threats to caribou are loss of habitat, through urbanization, forestry, mining, oil and gas and road-building, and wolf predation.
The grants fund activities that help to restore caribou habitat, including planting trees to restore areas to a pre-disturbed state and blocking former roads and other linear features, such as areas of cleared vegetation, to reduce access to predators.
The intake process approved one grant of $199,500 in the Thompson-Okanagan region, less than 20 kilometres east of Vavenby. The Adams Groundhog Road Rehabilitation and Reforestation project is currently in progress and has received two CHRF grants to date. The project’s goal is to restore 50 to 100 kilometres over multiple years to reduce predator movement and grant access to caribou habitat.
As of April 2021, 41 kms of road was chosen to assess for habitat rehabilitation and prescriptions were developed for 35 per cent of them. In total, over 14 kms has been treated. Due to rehabilitation treatments, over 7.2 hectares is now suitable for planting, which was planned for summer 2021, according to the HCTF.
The province of B.C. identified numerous high- and medium-priority herd ranges for caribou habitat restoration proposals submitted for the 2022-23 funding cycle. Intake for the this year’s cycle closed on Nov. 5, 2021.
Wells Gray North is noted on the HCTF website as a high-priority herd, and Wells Gray South and Groundhog as a medium-priority.