West Bench Recreation Ecology Study

Over the next couple years, in collaboration with PhD Candidate Gemma Cobb from Griffith University, Australia, Wildsight Golden will be expanding this project to build a better understanding of how local overlapping land use decisions (i.e. commercial logging, road building, wildfire risk reduction treatments, recreational trails and other infrastructure, etc.) may combine with the effects of climate change in the future and influence our ability to maintain a healthy environment for humans and wildlife in the Golden area.

Balancing goals for long-term landscape health with societal needs is an important part of land use decision making and is especially important in the areas around Golden that are experiencing rapid change. The main aims of this research will be to compile detailed baseline information specific to the  Dogtooth Range area of the west bench in the Upper Columbia Valley focused on current land use activities and infrastructure and how these are situated within wildlife habitat.

Many wildlife habitat values have been documented through research associated with the Kootenay Connect project 1 and those relevant to the west bench at Golden will be important resources in addition to Indigenous knowledge and perspectives and other local ecological knowledge.

Information from previous work done through processes such as the Golden Backcountry Recreation Access Plan that focused on recreation will be consulted. Plans for ongoing and future industrial operations, residential, resort and road development, and recreational land use will be documented. The research will identify and quantify landscape level changes and potential cumulative impacts in combination with climate change predictions
to support an increased understanding of the dynamics between wildlife habitat needs and
human values and impacts on the West Bench.

Additionally, we are seeking to engage Indigenous community members through surveys and interviews to explore environmental values held by residents and share interpretations of how climate change may influence this landscape in combination with human land use impacts. We aim to better understand areas of conflict and agreement by integrating ecological, social,cultural and climate information into spatial models to support a more holistic understanding of landscape-society dynamics.

The broad goal of this project is to promote social learning and genuine collaboration on climate action and sustainable land use planning.  It is an effort to develop the “big picture” story of the Dogtooth Range landscape that can be shared with the community and all who have decision making authority.

This work will begin again in early 2024 and we invite anyone who is interested in being involved to contact Gemma at gemma.cobb@griffithuni.edu.au with any questions.

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Upcoming Golden events

Bringing the Salmon Home documentary film

Monday, May 27, 2024

The mighty Columbia River was once the source of the world’s greatest salmon runs. But massive dams…

2024 Ellen Zimmerman Award celebration

Monday, May 27, 2024

Join us on Monday, May 27, 4-6 pm, in Wilmer to celebrate the 2024 Ellen Zimmerman Award…

Naturalist guided bird walk

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Are you interested in learning about the birds that call Golden their home these days? Come join Naturalist…

Native Flora Garden Tour (Creeky Cedars) Registration opens June 3, 2024

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Join Nick Laferriere; artist, photographer and gardener (some of his roles!) as he tours us around his local…

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Join The Team

Want to protect wildlife, clean water and wild spaces? Volunteer with us! Wildsight volunteers are a very special group of people who give generously of their time to stuff envelopes, attend rallies, help run events, put up posters, keep tabs on forestry practices in their communities and participate in citizen science initiatives.


Branch Information


Box #25
#203 - 421 9th Avenue N
Patlar Building, Golden BC V0A 1H0