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Tour highlights Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund initiatives

The fund is for stewardship and land acquisition projects
A group of elected officials visited Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Luxor Linkage Conservation Area, part of a critical ecological corridor in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Kootenay Conservation Program

Elected officials from throughout the Kootenay Boundary region came early to the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Government convention last month to learn more about the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF).

Councillors from the communities of Cranbrook, Greenwood, Nakusp, Nelson, and Trail joined two Regional District of East Kootenay directors and a director from the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B to visit three unique locations in the Columbia Valley.

This special tour highlighted projects that are funded through the CVLCF, a local government service that creates a dedicated fund for stewardship and land acquisition projects and was first piloted in the Columbia Valley in 2008. To date, the fund has provided over $2.8 million to local projects and leveraged an additional $24.5 million in matching funding and in-kind support.

“It was a beautiful day and I learned so much from these inspiring projects,” says Rik Logtenberg, a councillor from the City of Nelson. “We’ve been exploring the Local Conservation Fund service for our municipality and recognize the benefits it can bring to our community”.

The tour visited a restoration project at Luxor Linkage Conservation Area, a property owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada who completed forest thinning and other habitat enhancement activities to reduce fire risk and increase forest health.

“By thinning trees where forest ingrowth and encroachment have occurred, we have improved biodiversity at Luxor Linkage and helped to build resilience in a regionally important ecosystem that is susceptible to the impacts of climate change,” said Richard Klafki, Nature Conservancy of Canada’s program director for the Canadian Rocky Mountains region.

Next, the tour visited a local farm to learn about an innovative project that reduces risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep to wild sheep by conducting regular sheep testing. A collaboration between The Wild Sheep Society of BC and Riverside Farm, this project has built relationships between Columbia Valley farmers and wild sheep conservationists, and the approach has been so successful that it is now expanding to other parts of the province.

Finally, the tour ended in the beautiful Columbia Wetlands to scope some of the waterbirds and swallows that have been part of a Wildsight Golden project, which involves citizen scientists, builds and enhances habitat for swallows, and increases awareness about these important birds.

Every year, non-profit organizations and First Nations can apply for project funding through the Local Conservation Fund. In 2024, a total of $137,000 was awarded to nine projects in the Columbia Valley, including conservation work on American badgers and bighorn sheep, water monitoring on Columbia Lake, installation of wildlife-friendly fencing to safeguard habitat for wildlife, bat habitat enhancement and monitoring, conservation of biodiversity in the Columbia Wetlands, working with farmers to support wild sheep conservation, and invasive plant control.

For more information on the CVLCF, visit