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Tuesday November 29th, 2011  
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Quote of the Week
"Teaching has been an enjoyable journey and a great joy of mine."
- Aggie Mitchell  


Kimberley Massey photo
The 2012 Crowsnest Conservation Society Board of Directors (R to L): Treasurer Bill Paton, Glen Cumming, John Kinnear, Vice President and Secretary Merilyn Liddell, Rick Cooke, Jim Rennie, and President Judy Cooke. Missing: Karen Rendall and Gwen Tietz.
The Crowsnest Conservation Society (CCS) held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, November 23rd at the Blairmore Lions Pride Hall, where they received a presentation from WildSight, discussed this year’s initiatives, and appointed the 2012 Board of Directors.
To start things off, Heather Leschied, the Water Stewardship Program Manager for environmental non- governmental organization WildSight, spoke with members about WildSight’s StreamKeepers program and watershed stewardship initiatives in the Invermere area.
WildSight, formerly known as the East Kootenay Environmental Society from 1986 until it was renamed in 2005, oversees a number of large landscape conservation, invasive plant and watershed stewardship programs in the East Kootenay communities of Fernie, Creston, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere, Golden and Radium Hot Springs.
According to Leschied, the largest water stewardship initiative the organization has undertaken to date has been the Lake Windermere project, which was designed to protect and preserve water quality in Lake Windermere, which is located near Invermere at the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin, the fourth largest river in North America and which serves 15 million waterway users.
The Lake Windermere Project (LWP) was developed in 2005 as a result of increasing community concern around the state of the lake, which is located in a community which hosts a permanent population of roughly 9,000 which swells to close to 50,000 in the summer months.
“We have a lot of tremendous pressure on the lake recreationally, as well as development pressures,” said Leschied.
The project was developed in partnership with 12 different groups, including all levels of the Canadian government, local First Nations groups, industry and community members, due to a desire to place an emphasis on cooperation with all groups who have jurisdiction over the lake.
Leschied said the first step was increasing scientific knowledge of the lake’s water quality by testing pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and other factors.
She said the first two big steps in the project were scientific water quality monitoring and public outreach and education.
“We wanted to engage our community in understanding the value of protecting the lake and keeping it healthy,” she said.
Through implementing a number of unique management options, Leschied said the groups were able to identify shoreline management guidelines, which identify the types of development which should or should not occur on the lake’s shoreline, which have been incorporated as part of the LMP and into local bylaws.
According to Leschied, Lake Windermere is the first lake in the East Kootenays where that project has been implemented, and nine other lakes are now following suit.

The project was chosen as a National Best Practice Example for Community Based Monitoring by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, as well as being selected as the winner of the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia’s Land Award in the Non-Profit Sector.
Leschied said many aspects of the LWP have been incorporated into WildSight’s StreamKeepers program, which was developed in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans, in order to equip residents with the skills and resources to monitor and maintain watersheds in their communities.
WildSight staff recently completed training to become instructors of the StreamKeepers protocol, and have instructed workshops in Nelson, Fernie, Cranbrook, Golden, Radium, and St. Mary’s Lake near Kimberley.
“StreamKeepers is a really great way to get people out, get them in the stream and get them to pick up that rock and realize there is life under it,” said Leschied.
“That is one of the most exciting parts of it.”
Participants in the StreamKeepers program receive certification based on successful completion of the course, which then allows them to protect local steam habitats, educate the general public about the importance of local watersheds, and encourage cooperation and watershed management.
“It helps to bring community members together with some of the decision makers and other government agencies so we can all increase our collective knowledge about our local watersheds,” said Leschied.
The two-day course takes participants through a series of modules, including an introductory stream habitat survey, advanced stream habitat survey, water quality and invertebrate samplling, stream side planting, and juvenile fish identification.
Through the protocol, StreamKeepers wal the stream and map its features, identifying problem areas, testing chemical water composition, and planting riparian vegetation in order to stabilize banks, prevent erosion, and provide cover, food and habitat for fish.
“As more and more groups get involved, I think we’ll see this protocol cover more of Canada,” said Leschied.
CCS President Judy Cooke noted that the CCS is currently looking to form a local watershed group, and that undertaking the StreamKeepers measures could be a valuable and important aspect of that.
Following Leschied’s presentation, members received presentations regarding initiatives from the past year such as the riparian restoration program, amphibian survey, and BearSmart.
Finally, members appointed the 2012 Board of Directors, which consists of President Judy Cooke, Vice President and Secretary Merilyn Liddell, Treasurer Bill Paton, and Board Members Glen Cumming, John Kinnear, Rick Cooke, Jim Rennie, Karen Rendall and Gwen Tietz.
For more information on the CCS, visit
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