A lot of projects that are getting the grants in Lower Pitt and Fraser Rivers, are related to conserving sturgeon populations. Only catch-and-release fishing is allowed. (Craig Doucette/Special to The News)

A lot of projects that are getting the grants in Lower Pitt and Fraser Rivers, are related to conserving sturgeon populations. Only catch-and-release fishing is allowed. (Craig Doucette/Special to The News)

Habitat Conservation Trust announces 5 grants for projects in Pitt River watershed

Gives over $195 million in funds for projects across the province

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) will help save fish in the Pitt River watershed that have been around since prehistoric times along with other area conservation projects.

The foundation’s communications officer, Craig Doucette told The News that a vast majority of projects in the Lower Pitt and Fraser Rivers are related to sturgeon populations, but they also have projects focusing on monitoring and protecting local lakes and waterways from invasive mussels species and encouraging landowners better protect riparian areas on their lands.

The grants this year have been the highest recorded annual investments through the foundation, according the HCTF CEO Dan Buffett.

”The Lower Fraser and Pitt Rivers are truly a rich ecosystem that support a significant abundance and diversity of fish, birds and other wildlife. Whether it is sturgeon, salmon, waterfowl, red-legged frogs, or bears, collectively these species rely on a mosaic of aquatic and terrestrial habitats located in some of the most developed areas of the province,” said Buffett.

“It is crucial that we conserve, enhance and restore the remaining habitats given the variety of pressures such as urbanization and climate change that result in habitat loss and degradation. Keeping our rivers, habitats and watersheds resilient is key to maintaining our biological diversity and healthy ecosystems.”

The HCTF board approved a $79,402 grant for InStream Fisheries Research Inc.’s Juvenile White Sturgeon critical habitat in the Pitt River watershed project. The project will complete a 5-year telemetry study to address knowledge gaps regarding the migration behaviour and habitat use of juvenile sturgeon throughout the Pitt River watershed across all habitat types, including major tributaries.

Fraser River white sturgeon can live for more than 150 years and weigh more than 600 kilograms. They are considered an at-risk species.

A $29,906 grant has been approved by the HCTF board for the Lower Fraser White Sturgeon Telemetry Study by the Ministry of Forests. The project is 10-year study to monitor acoustically tagged adult white sturgeon within the Lower Fraser, Pitt and Harrison River systems.

Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society’s Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver Invasive Mussels Lake Monitoring Program will be getting a $13,551 grant to monitor Pitt, Harrison, Cultus, Burnaby and Buntzen lakes.

Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association has been approved for a $57,468 grant for its juvenile white sturgeon program. The intent of this project is to provide data to better understand juvenile white sturgeon recruitment, abundance and distribution in the Fraser River and tributaries from Delta to Yale.

Fraser Valley Conservancy’s renewal and retention of Nature Stewards in the Fraser Valley will be getting a $36,498 grant. This project is designed to support previously recruited landowners to ensure their stewardship actions are successful, and also implements a renewal process to help these landowners focus their efforts by providing personalized stewardship advice and securing a signed commitment agreement, which increases the ability to track their progress over time.

The funding and support for these projects come from a wide variety of sources including public groups such as the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF), partner organizations like the FESBC, provincial government contributions, court fines, and endowments. A significant source of funding comes from the conservation surcharge paid by B.C.’s anglers, hunters, trappers, and guide outfitters.

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