Wildsight Golden Year in Review - 2023

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Wildsight Golden had a very busy and interesting 2023! Our organization holds events, but is also so much more. Here are some of our accomplishments from the past year. 

Upper Columbia Swallow Habitat Enhancement Project (UCSHEP)

Bank Swallow adults at colony with chick in burrow.

Bank and Barn Swallows are species-at-risk that have faced significant population declines. In 2023 we involved 73 volunteers who helped us monitor 101 Bank Swallow colonies and 350 Barn Swallow nests. We completed building artificial nesting structures (ANS) for Barn Swallows in the Columbia Valley, with an additional multi-species condo built in Parson to satisfy the habitat requirements of both endangered bats and swallows. We now have 7 ANSs in place from Invermere to Donald! A Bank Swallow colony at Windermere Lake Provincial Park faced negative effects from human recreational activities; we continued work with BC Parks to restore colony habitat there. We installed 84 nest cups on pre-existing buildings and ANSs. Nest cups can make structures more attractive for nesting and were provided by the Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club. A Bank Swallow habitat enhancement project was completed in Athalmer with the District of Invermere, and a colony was saved from being removed. We installed Motus Wildlife Tracking Stations with Environment and Climate Change Canada and tagged 50 Bank Swallows in 2023 at 2 colonies near Invermere. This will provide unprecedented information on post-breeding habitat and migration routes. We have placed interpretive signage at habitat enhancement sites, with Indigenous perspectives on swallows highlighted (provided by Ktunaxa and Secwépemc Nations). Numerous private landowner visits and phone calls were made about swallow inventories or conservation on private land and education on co-existence. This project is managed by biologist Rachel Darvill who is assisted by naturalist Verena Shaw. Visit our webpage for more information.

Community Invasive Plant Program

Wildsight Golden’s Community Invasive Plant Program (CIPP) has been running since 2010, thus 2023 was the 14th season for the CIPP and was coordinated by Calvin Beauchesne and managed by Rachel Darvill. The program worked to remove invasive plants throughout the Town of Golden using non-toxic methods, as well as educate community members about invasive plants and advise on best practices for removing them. The coordinator removed invasive plant species at 18 priority sites. A total of 2,602 bags of weeds have been removed from our community since the inception of the program in 2010! Some plant stems and roots were left on hard ground to decompose if the particular plant species was unable to spread via plant fragments and no seeds were present, therefore the number of bagged weeds is an underrepresentation of weeds removed from Town. Two Community Weed Pull events were held during the summer of 2023 and the coordinator ran part of 2 Wildsight Golden’s GET WILD! kids day camp sessions. Landowner visits occurred at some properties with Orange Hawkweed infestations. The coordinator took part in three Golden Farmers Markets in June, July and August, educating the public about invasive plants. 

Climate Action Task Force

There were a number of events that took place in 2023. In March there was a talk by Calvin Beauchesne at the Island Restaurant titled Optimism in a Warming World on the state of globe climate affairs and energy policy. In April then Organizing Director Natasha Edmunds from Neighbours United came in to do a workshop on the 100% Renewable Energy campaign in the Kootenays. Golden committed to Neighbour’s United’s 100% renewable energy proposal in 2021. Over the summer there were a series of climate cafes held. Climate cafes are informal spaces for people to talk about different aspects of climate and ecological issues; they are an important tool in helping to manage climate grief and eco-anxiety. Climate cafes were held at Jita’s cafe, Whitetooth Brewery and Dirtbag climbing gym. In October there was a film screening held at the Seniors Center for the film I Am Greta, a documentary on the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. In November Climate Trivia was held at the Island restaurant. A ReDi grant was received by Columbia Basin Trust over the winter to finish installing solar panels on Golden Secondary School. The solar panels were hooked up over the summer.

Golden & District Air Quality Committee

Early in the year, with the help of the Columbia Basin Trust technology grant, Wildsight Golden obtained and installed 2 purple air meters in Husky Mobile Home Park and King Crescent. In May, we took over the Woodstove Reduction program funded by the BC Lung Association and in November, Wildsight Golden merged with the Golden & District Air Quality. With the funding from the Woodstove Reduction program, we were able to hire a part-time contractor, put out a bunch of articles in the paper and help people with rebates to replace their old wood stoves with more energy efficient and less polluting devices. Many smoky wood stoves were replaced with more energy efficient wood stoves, pellet stoves and heat pumps. The Air Quality Coordinator tabled at 3 farmers markets over the summer, as well as the Wildfire Risk Reduction event at the Civic Center. The Coordinator and volunteers also started the door-to-door campaign this winter to raise awareness about clean burning practice and less polluting home heating options. 

Get Wild Camp

This was our 9th year delivering Get Wild camp. It was so popular this year that registration was overwhelming. Every camp was full with 12 children. There was a lot of rain and later smoke, so camp was a bit challenging, however, the children and camp staff still had a lot of fun. They visited the farmer’s market regularly, swam at our golden pool, went climbing, rafting, visited the buffalo ranch, wolf centre and sky bridge. We were short on our regular funding, but the community really pulled through. Thank you to CUPE (TOG), Columbia Valley Credit Union and the Health Employees union.

Forestry

A big priority is protecting and better managing old-growth forests, particularly the Interior Temperate Rainforest. We held an old growth art event to support the implementation of the Old Growth Strategic Review and a backyard old-growth walk. We have concerns about the ecosystem effects of logging, like impacts on water quality and quantity, landscape connectivity, contributions to climate change, decreases in biodiversity, and impacts on breeding birds. We are engaging in the new biodiversity and ecosystem health draft framework.

Wildsight continues to support concerned community members with information and contacts to help navigate logging plans upstream of their homes along Campbell Road and on Split Creek. We also responded to referrals for cutblocks submitted by Pacific Woodtech, Canfor and BCTS.

We supported the Golden Community Forest with letters of support for their goals and a fibre use study while calling on the provincial government to undertake a new timber supply analysis and review for the Golden TSA. We have been building relationships and sharing common concerns about the high number of forestry roads with Pacific Woodtech and learning from Canfor in the field about some successes and forest management strategies planned in TFL14.

Community Wellness Trail 

In 2023, Wildsight Golden received a generous grant from the Golden & District Community Foundation to do a feasibility study for a proposed community wellness trail.

On September 30, 2023, the feasibility study was completed and can be found on our website. Citizen input was considered and the feasibility study went into a completely different direction, resulting in a community peace garden. 

The Golden Community Foundation was able to see the vision and fund this feasibility study, which we consider phase 1 of the project. In February of 2024, Wildsight Golden will present the findings with the Town Council and propose that the Town of Golden look at implementing phase 2 of this project. 

Other events and activities:

Environmental education is a very important part of Wildsight Golden’s mandate and we hosted and co-hosted a number of events and activities last year.

These included our on-line winter speaker series wildlife theme, speaking of Grizzlies, Wolverines, Elk and Pollinators. These are available on our website as recordings.

In April with generous sponsorship from other partners, such as the Rod & Gun club, we hosted a “Big Horny Comedy Tour” which was fun and well attended. 

As the weather got better, the annual birding breakfast was well attended, as well as a couple of guided hikes and a paddle down the Columbia River. Thank you as well to Creeky Cedars for the beautiful guided tour of their native plant garden. Summer ended with our first annual Wild Bear Festival.

The Golden branch of the Library, Brian Kelly-McArthur and Wildsight hosted “Fungi through the Macro Lens” on a blustery Saturday and we will follow up with “An Introduction to Spiders and their world” at the end of January.

In February of last year, we held our annual membership drive and gave away a painting by Brandi Romano at our AGM and in again in February this year, we will have another membership drive and a donated painting from Cherisse Feldberg to give away at our AGM in March.

Other notable events were a highly successful fundraising auction, a raffle for a beautiful swallow sculpture from the late Cory Schacher and a raffle for some ski passes at Kicking Horse resort. We are so grateful for all the support from local businesses and non-profit organizations in Golden and area A. A new plant interpretive sign (for the rotary trail plant walk) was also placed at Lady Grey school.

One of the most important activities that Wildsight Golden engaged in last year was forming new and maintaining new partnerships with organizations such as the Golden Cycling Club, the Golden & District Rod and Gun Club and Tourism Golden. We appreciate our partnerships and hope to continue to work with the other organizations in Golden to continue all our goals of keeping our area a resilient and sustainable community. 

For more information, please contact Leslie Adams, Branch Manager, golden@wildsight.ca or view our website.

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