So what are we about?

The Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners came together several years ago in order to allow local communities to play a role in stewarding this very important wetland system. We are a registered non-profit group in good standing under the Society Act of British Columbia.

Vision Statement:

The Upper Columbia River and the adjacent Columbia Wetlands will continue to function as a healthy flood-plain ecosystem with a complex biological community governed by natural fluvial and ecological processes. Human Communities will continue to benefit socially, environmentally and economically from this naturally functioning ecosystem and, in turn, the wetlands will contribute to the health and vitality of the communities in the upper Columbia River Basin. Residents in these communities will become engaged and motivated to adopt a stewardship ethic and will work collectively to demonstrate the benefits of a shared stewardship model for this important resource.

Mission Statement:

The Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners is made up of a diverse group of community interests, First Nations and government agencies created to develop effective stewardship and management practices for the Columbia Wetlands and the Upper Columbia River. The partnership, acting on their vision statement, will engage the general public and work with governments at all levels to implement a shared stewardship model for the management of the river and wetlands.

Mandate statement:

The mandate of the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners is to steward the wetlands in accordance with our vision as a single system irrespective of ownership or jurisdiction and to take a pro-active stance in dealing with issues as they arise. We intend to take a positive, community and science based approach to issues related to the wetlands, and resolve issues neighbour to neighbour. The formation of this group is, in effect, local people taking responsibility for a natural landscape that they care deeply about.

Actions to Date:

  1. The Partners, working with a range of participants, has assisted in the cleanup of several old dump sites adjacent to or in the wetlands.
  2. The Partners have developed an adaptive science strategy and have supported several science based projects to help us develop a better understanding of how the system works and what we can do that will help to maintain natural processes in the wetlands and river.
  3. The Partners are working with various agencies to develop better access to the river at several sites along the river.
  4. The Partners have played a role in assisting governments to make decisions on various issues affecting the river and wetlands. There has been a decade long debate over a boating regulation for the river system and wetlands. The Partners have come up with a compromise that has been presented to government which basically prohibits motorized vessels and associated towing activities in the wetlands proper and its terrestrial components, and seeks to limit vessels operating in the main channels of the wetlands portion of the river to a maximum of 20hp. We await full regulatory passage.
  5. The Partners have provided support to Wildsight Golden who has applied for funding to document the presence of invasive weeds in the system, to develop strategies for dealing with any weeds found and educate users on making sure that no invasive species are brought into the system on boats, trailers, waders, etc. The Partners have also worked with local ranchers and Gail Berg, a consulting botanist to identify plants that occur in the wetlands that are poisonous to cattle. A guide to these plants has been developed for use by ranchers.
  6. The Partners are also looking at developing a river use guide and maps that will assist users in navigating through the system and complying with the regulations that are proposed. The first segment covering the most southerly portion of the river has been completed and may be used by accessing the link on the homepage. Further segments of the guide will be available in 2014, and linked to this website.
  7. The Partners have secured a multi-year grant from the Regional District of East Kootenay with the goal of re-introducing the Northern Leopard Frog to the wetlands. Penny Ohanganian is working in the second year of this project and we anticipate that 2014 will indicate the initial success of this endeavour.
  8. The Partners are in the course of revising and updating the existing bird-list for the wetlands.
  9. The Partners are considering conducting the study respecting Burbot (Ling Cod) presence in the River System.
  10. The Partners seek exposure and the opportunity to educate the public about their programs and activities by being present with their banners and brochures at various regional fairs such as the Windermere Scarecrow Festival.

The Partnership is also looking at other long term concerns in the wetlands:

  1. The system is critically dependent on natural stream flows into the system. We are working to identify management strategies for water flows and water quality that will meet the water demands of local communities and industry and maintain flows through the system. The Partners are participating in a basin wide water governance study and program that may lead to the creation of a water governance board.
  2. The Partners are assisting the Ministry of Environment is resolving outstanding issues with the boundaries of the provincial Wildlife Management Area that encompasses much of the system and zero horsepower regulation has been adopted for the terrestrial portion of the WMA.
  3. The Partners have assisted government in developing a process for reviewing applications for commercial recreation applications in the wetlands and has worked with the proponents of such concepts to adopt sustainable guidelines.
  4. A project to identify heritage sites along the river is being developed.
  5. The Partners are developing strategies, brochures, guides and signage to educate the public on the values of the river and wetlands through presentations and celebrations on Wetlands Day and during other local events
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  7. The Partners, working in conjunction with First Nations, have assisted with yearly Salmon Festivals since October 2011 which celebrates the role of salmon, past and present, in the Upper Columbia River system and seen innovative ways to bring the salmon back to the system.

Present Funding

The BC Ministry of Environment has supported the establishment of the Partners with grants of $20,000.00 in its first two years and $40,000 for its third year. The Columbia Basin Trust initially provided $20,000.00 annually over the three years as a startup fund. CBT now supports specific projects meeting its criteria. Over the last decade, members of the partnership have expended over 2 million dollars in projects related to the system and have contributed some $200,000.00 of in kind efforts in the establishment of this group.

Future Funding

We continue to approach all levels of government for core funding and specific project support and received private funding from sources such as the Royal Bank’s Blue Water Fund. At present our major concern is finding sufficient funding to support the activities of The Partnership over the next several years. This would include the cost of an executive director (on contract), travel and meeting costs and the cost of projects that the Partnership felt were of sufficient importance that they would like to fund them directly rather than looking for outside project funding. The Partners have a science and monitoring committee that includes several academics and resource professionals who will ensure that high quality science is applied to the management of the system. The Partners have registered federal charitable status which we hope will encourage donations and project support from any number of sources.

Please let us know if you would like any further information, you can get in touch with with the information on the contact page.

Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners