February 28, 2005

BC to seek go-ahead to provide $6.5M to conservation trust fund

British Columbia intends to seek legislative approval to provide almost $6.5 million to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund (HCTF) to strengthen support for habitat and wildlife protection and restoration projects across BC.

"BC is known around the world for its leadership in habitat and wildlife protection, thanks in large part to the work done by organizations like the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund and its partners in communities across the province," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "Our improved fiscal and economic outlook means we can take steps, like this proposed funding, to support the work of the HCTF and ensure critical habitats and species are preserved for generations to come."

The proposed funding would be managed by the HCTF to support its continuing conservation efforts and boost the fund community groups rely upon for local conservation projects. In particular, the funding will be directed to three priority areas:

$3.7 million for the HCTF's endowment fund which pays for the operation and maintenance of conservation lands;

$1 million to increase the Public Conservation Assistance Fund, which provides grants to community stewardship groups; and

$1.8 million to complete a multi-partnered purchase of over 4,000 hectares of critical habitats in the Kootenays known as the Hofert/Hoodoos area.

The Hofert/Hoodoos comprises forests, rangelands, wetlands and striking rock formations, known as hoodoos, which support a wide variety of species, some of them threatened. The HCTF previously invested $500,000 towards the purchase of the 4,037-hectare Hofert property between Invermere and Fairmont Hot Springs.

The planned HCTF funding complements other substantial environmental contributions the BC government has made recently. Among them are the $7-million Living Rivers Trust Fund and an $8-million BC Trust for Public Lands. Since last September, the province has committed more than $20 million to long-term conservation and habitat restoration projects and measures.

More information about the HCTF is available on its Web site, www.hctf.ca.

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