Toads hopped to the forefront of a talk on wildlife conservation in Nakusp.
The downstairs conference room of the K2 Rotor Lodge was packed on Sept. 28 as residents from around the area, some as far as Edgewood, came to a meet and greet hosted by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).
The mandate of the FWCP is to conserve the fish and wildlife that have been impacted by BC Hydro dams.
There was a recognition that when the dams were built, there would need to be a compensation for the loss of wildlife and habitat.
One example of this is Kootenay Lake, which has been impacted by both the Duncan Dam, and the Libby Dam in Montana. Those two dams reduced the nutrient input into Kootenay Lake, which in turn affected the whole ecosystem. To offset this, a program was begun in the mid-1990s to fertilize Kootenay Lake to provide the nutrients being held back by the dams.
While questions were asked on a variety of topics, the one on everyone’s mind was the western toad.
The toads in this area have a habitat in the forest across the highway from Summit Lake. In the springtime, the toads make their way from the forest to the lake itself, where they lay their eggs. These eggs hatch late in the summer and must cross the highway to get back to where they will spend most of their lives.
Though answers were provided, not many seemed very satisfied.
“They flaunt these programs saying their objectives are to maintain and improve the status of species or ecosystems of concern, and maintain or improve the integrity and productivity of ecosystems and habitats, but they’re overruled by industry basically,” said Crystal Spicer.
Another FWCP member suggested there’s no research to support the idea that toads don’t require specific types of forest habitats, but this was shouted down by several in attendance.
Something pointed out to the FWCP board was that the audience is not anti-logging, they just want a reallocation for logging, which they feel would be a win for everyone and everything involved.
The FWCP don’t have final say in where loggers are allowed to cut. They can only give recommendations.
They also don’t have any legislative authority to turn any piece of land into parks, such as the land next to Summit Lake, but they can recommend it.
“I believe there will be an opportunity, but it will be a government decision, not just my agency or anything like that. If and when the door opens, the opportunity is there,” said John Klebs, a co-chair of the FWCP. “There is a reserve on that land already, it’s not going to get alienated, so the option is going to be there for the future, but I can’t say when and if it will become a park.”