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Habitat funds to help restore Kokanee stocks

by Judie Steeves
Staff Writer, Capital News
Wednesday, May 1, 1996

One of the largest projects to be funded through the Habitat Conservation Fund this year will put in motion an action plan to try and save the Kokanee in Okanagan Lake.

Environment Minister Moe Sihota has announced that $150,000 will go toward efforts to rebuild and maintain Kokanee stocks through monitoring activities, comparative analysis studies, large scale experiments and remedial measures.

However, the scientists who drew up the plan estimated it would cost more than $500,000 over the next five years to carry it out, and local B.C. Wildlife Federation officials say the funding should be matched by the provincial government.

Dan Santano, president of the Okanagan Region commented, “The biologists admitted we have a Kokanee problem because they introduced Mysis shrimp (three decades ago), and one of the solutions is to get rid of them, but it’s no fault of sportsmen, so why should we pay to fix problem?”

The HCF fund consists mainly of funds from surcharges on hunting and angling licences.

Since the sports community is putting up this $ 150,000, Santano contends a similar amount should be put up by the government from general revenue to tackle the problem.

He also feels the Kokanee fishery has such an impact on the tourism industry, it should also be footing part of the bill.

New provincial president of the federation is John Holdstock of Kelowna, who notes the government would also like to use the HCF fund to pay for wildlife inventories, normally the task of regional office staff.

“That fund just wasn’t intended for this,” comments Holdstock.

Of $4.9 million approved to support 154 habitat conservation projects around B.C., a further $31,000 was okayed for efforts to recover the declining Shorts Creek sheep herd on the Westside.

A project to place gravel to improve spawning habitat for Rainbow Trout near Winfield also was included, along with a $45,000 project to develop a community based 100-year plan for the recovery of species at risk in the South Okanagan.