Nature Trust crews perform hands-on environmental work

The Nature Trust of BC hires crews each summer to tackle a wide variety of conservation activities on properties across the province

Chainsaw training with the Nature Trust summer crew near Cranbrook

Chainsaw training with the Nature Trust summer crew near Cranbrook

Robin Rivers

“What interested me in the crew position first of all was the overall goal of The Nature Trust. I am currently attending a diploma program at Selkirk College in Environmental Planning,” said Cody Fernandes of the Kootenay HSBC Conservation Youth Crew.

“I saw The Nature Trust as a very valuable opportunity to gain insight towards the strategies that are used to acquire property and what prescriptions are implemented to maintain their structure.”

The Nature Trust of British Columbia hires crews each summer to tackle a wide variety of conservation activities on properties across the province and learn valuable skills for future employment. Training includes First Aid and Bear Aware as well as the safe handling of power tools.

“Over the summer I learned that when dealing with conservation properties everything takes time and you cannot always see the final product instantly,” says Cody.

“Prescriptions take time and it is important to pass the knowledge and techniques from one summer crew to the next so the ecosystems can fully benefit from the efforts put fourth each summer. Trees and shrubs don’t develop or grow overnight, and knapweed doesn’t just disappear after you pull it. It is important to monitor specific areas seasonally to maintain the desired integrity of the properties.”

The crews perform on-the-ground work as well as attending workshops from specialists in the field on topics such as bird counts, and forest and wetland ecology. They also contribute to the local community in a variety of ways.

This year the crew installed a kiosk at the Wigwam Flats to inform hikers of the importance of the property to the local ecosystem. As well, they created a new gate and parking area at the Sheep Mountain property to accommodate the high population of anglers and hikers who frequent the area.

The crew alswo created floating anchored logs to help increase habitat for Painted Turtles at Elizabeth Lake which is a popular area for families to recreate and view the turtles within Cranbrook city limits.”

“At the beginning of the summer I was hoping to gain knowledge and experience in an environmental workplace in the Kootenays,” explains Cody. “Now at the end of the summer I can say I have gained so much more than that.”

“My favourite activity was thinning the dense growth of fir and spruce on the Columbia Lake East Conservation property where logging had previously occurred in an effort to increase Bighorn Sheep habitat for a herd that resides in the area.”

When asked about his future plans, Cody says, “I will be finishing my diploma in the Integrated Environmental Planning program and Selkirk College.”

In 2014, HSBC Conservation Youth Crews are operating on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, South Okanagan, East Kootenay, and Peace River.

The Nature Trust is pleased to have HSBC Bank Canada as the title sponsor of the HSBC Conservation Youth Crew Program for the ninth year. Other sponsors include BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Canada Summer Jobs (Service Canada), The Colin and Lois Pritchard Foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Great-West Life, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and The Tony Cartledge Fund.

As a leading non profit land conservation organization, The Nature Trust of British Columbia is dedicated to protecting BC’s natural diversity of plants and animals through the acquisition and management of critical habitats. Since 1971 The Nature Trust along with our partners has invested more than $80 million to secure over 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) across British Columbia.

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