On October 17th farmers, ranchers, and members of the Shuswap Indian Band (SIB) met to share food, celebrate restoration efforts, and bring awareness to future projects. The event opened with a welcoming circle and prayer, lead by Shuswap Indian Band Chief Barb Cote. Attendees shared stories and highlighted the project’s importance within the role of regional reconciliation efforts. The event also included hoop dancing, games & activities, a walk to the creek to see restoration efforts up close, and a feast of donated meat and produce from local ranchers and farmers, and salmon donated by the SIB.
Over the last 5 years, Farmland Advantage and the SIB have been working together on projects to restore riparian areas along creeks that run through farms, ranches, and Indian Reserve lands. These collaborative efforts have resulted in healthier river and stream banks, debris cleanup, and ensuring that salmon spawning streams are free from blockages. Current and ongoing restoration efforts will improve water quality, biodiversity, and habitats for at-risk fish populations and other wildlife.
The Farmland Advantage program identifies important natural areas and ecosystems on agricultural lands and then works with farmers, ranchers and Indigenous communities to restore and maintain those ecosystems. The program provides funding for advisors to work with farmers and ranchers to identify key actions that can be taken, such as removing invasive species, establishing fencing along streams to manage livestock, and thinning stands to reduce wildfire risk. Funding is also provided to pay for the restoration work, and farmers are tasked with maintaining this ecosystem over time. In exchange for this maintenance, farmers receive an annual Payment for Ecosystem Services, to acknowledge the important role that they are playing in protecting salmon habitat, reducing wildfire risks, and contributing to cleaner water and soils. These efforts are instrumental in working towards climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In 2021 and 2022, Farmland Advantage is focusing on restoring riparian areas in four specific watersheds in BC: Koksilah River (Cowichan); Little Campbell River (Surrey); Bertrand Creek (Langley); and the Upper Columbia (Radium).