Puntledge River watershed projects receive funds

Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program funds five fish projects within the Puntledge River watershed.

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) has announced funding for five fish projects within the Puntledge River watershed.

Projects include a breach planning project at Courtenay River, looking at fish production at Comox Lake and assessing the Upper Puntledge Fish Hatchery site.

FWCP funds are provided through BC Hydro and managed in a partnership with the Province of British Columbia and Fisheries an Oceans Canada to conserve and enhance fish, wildlife and their supporting habitats affected by the creation of BC Hydro owned and operated generation facilities in the coastal, Columbia and Peace regions.

FWCP has committed $266,281 to Puntledge River projects. All research and project work will take place in 2013/2014.

“Four fish and one wildlife restoration and research projects were granted funding this year targeting species and habitat that are a priority for the FWCP in this watershed,” says FWCP coastal board member Helen Davis. “These are important projects that reinforce the continued positive partnerships between the FWCP, local First Nations and community groups.”

Applications are reviewed annually in the coastal region by both technical and board-level committees that include representation from all program partners, First Nations and the public. Projects are chosen based on technical merit, cost versus benefit, level of partnership, linkages to watershed-specific priorities and overall benefit to the FWCP’s mandate and vision.

The FWCP in the Coastal region has funded approximately $2.5 million in projects on the Puntledge River System, since the program began in 1999. For 2013, the FWCP’s total funding for the 15 hydroelectric systems within the Coastal region will be $1.6 million.

For more information and to find out how you can apply for next year’s funding, visit fwcp.ca.

• • •

The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (CVPWS) has been awarded funds for three projects.

• The first is a Courtenay Airpark Lagoon Dike Breach Planning project ($33,464) that will increase productive fish habitat in the Courtenay River estuary by designing a breach from the river into the Airpark Lagoon and creating new salt marsh habitat east of the existing outflow of the lagoon.

• The second project is the Assessment of Homing Behaviour of Puntledge Summer Chinook Hatchery Returns project ($58,734.50) that continues in its third year of a four-year plan. The project will release summer Chinook hatchery smolts in Comox Lake to see if the juveniles will imprint on the lake and migrate back to the lake where they will have the greatest chance of survival.

• The third project for the CVPWS is the Evaluation of Summer Chinook and Coho Production in the Upper Puntledge Watershed ($99,500.50). The goal is to gain a better understanding on the entrainment and passage of juveniles at the diversion dam, and on the survival of Summer Chinook and Coho in upper watershed.

• The Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association will head up a project called the Assessment of Comox Lake Carrying Capacity and Coho-cutthroat Interactions ($70,125). The study will improve the understanding of fish production limitations and provide direction to optimize fish management strategies.

• The fifth project ($4,457) is the Wildlife Habitat Restoration and Enhancement of Upper Puntledge Fish Hatchery site (now decommissioned) managed by E. Wind Consulting. The project will involve assessing the site in its current state for species and habitat use, including species at risk such as the Red-legged Frog. The long-term outcome of this project would be site restoration and enhancement for wildlife.

— Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program

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