Restoring grassland and open forest habitat in our Columbia Region
ʔaq’am is starting a five-year project to turn a dense Douglas-fir forest into open range and open forest to benefit flammulated owls, long-billed curlews, Lewis’s woodpeckers, common nighthawks, and yellow badgers.
The ecosystem restoration project is on ʔaq’am’s Indian Reserve, near Cranbrook. Adjacent lands have already been restored and the planned thinning and burning treatments will support important wildlife corridors for bears and ungulates.
ʔaq’am, an Indigenous community—formerly St. Mary’s Indian Band—within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation, is leading the project. It has completed planning, mapping, and an archaeological overview assessment, and identified 725 wildlife trees to be conserved and inventoried. An inventory of species at risk frequently detected fringed myotis bat, a Blue-listed species with very few previous records in the East Kootenay.
Extensive flammulated owl activity was recorded and project biologists believe that ʔaq’am is still the only location where these at-risk birds reside in the East Kootenay west of the Kootenay River.
Returning the landscape to more open-forest habitat and re-introducing prescribed burns will also help local communities by reducing the risk of future catastrophic wildfires.