Partnerships to address critical issues facing BC watersheds and fish populations.
Vancouver – The Living Rivers Trust Fund (LRTF), a $21 million fund established by the BC Provincial Government and administered by the Living Rivers Advisory Group, has announced its support and funding of its first two key watershed business plans in British Columbia.
“The Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program and Living Rivers – Georgia Basin/Vancouver Island embody the vision of Living Rivers “to create a legacy for the province based on healthy watersheds, sustainable ecosystems and thriving communities.” They represent a holistic approach to creating healthy watersheds and sustainable ecosystems in British Columbia,” said John Woodward, Chair of the Advisory Group. “We are very pleased to see these two initiatives move forward to address watershed protection and restoration.”
With funding agreements over four years of $10 million for the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program (FSWP) and $5.5 million for Living Rivers – Georgia Basin/Vancouver Island (LR-GB/VI), Woodward credits the BC Government with the vision that led to the establishment of the fund and the commitment to tackling the needs of sensitive ecological areas in the province. “The Living Rivers Advisory Group has taken a leadership role at a very strategic level and has been able to leverage the resources of other partners to get these plans in place,” said Woodward. “When the Ministry of Environment created the Fund, they appointed the Advisory Group to make recommendations based on best practices, sound business planning and scientific and technical advice. We are confident that both business plans represent all of the elements and intent for the Fund’s use.”
Pointing to the example of the FSWP, Woodward notes that Living Rivers was instrumental in bringing about a partnership that involves key organizations capable of carrying out the work needed to reverse current trends in salmon stock populations. “Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fraser Basin Council are the two main collaborators who developed this initiative. However, through Living Rivers, we were able to bring together a greater number of organizations that have committed additional resources, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund Society. Other stakeholders - First Nations, recreational and commercial fisheries and conservation groups have been instrumental in the development and planning stages and play an important role in the implementation of projects.”
“Living Rivers – Georgia Basin/Vancouver Island was initiated by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation in collaboration with the provincial Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. They have also developed a collaborative management model and secured many contributing partners including the Pacific Salmon Commission – Southern Endowment Fund to undertake projects and develop new governance models that will facilitate adaptation to climate change. Expansion to the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 2007 further strengthened partnerships with First Nations, regional governments, community interests and the private sector” said Woodward.
Premier Gordon Campbell and Environment Minister Penner both expressed their support for the Advisory Group’s funding decisions. “These two basins are so important to the overall health and sustainability of numerous watersheds in British Columbia,” said Premier Campbell. “If we are going to achieve success in fighting declining stocks and eroding habitat, we need to start with these two basins – they are critical to the overall health and vitality of our province. We’re especially pleased that Living Rivers is demonstrating its ability to bring together diverse groups in a constructive manner where the focus is on creating and maintaining healthy river systems in British Columbia.”
And while Pacific salmonids has been identified as the symbolic icon of Living Rivers, projects in each plan have been developed based on their ability to address long-standing impediments in achieving healthy watersheds and include other fish populations such as white sturgeon in the Fraser and steelhead in both plans.
“Both business plans recognize the importance of engaging First Nations and the need for community and public involvement. We’re actually quite excited at the potential they hold as models that can be applied to other areas in the future – not just in British Columbia but on a national and international scale,” notes Woodward. “Each one has developed goals and objectives that are based on priorities for their specific areas. For example, improved water and private land management in the face of climate change was seen to be a high priority within the Georgia Basin. For the Fraser Basin, priorities include developing better information tools to allow for improved responsive and effective fisheries management.”
Living Rivers Trust Fund