Cranbrook, BC — During this unusual summer season, The Nature Trust’s Conservation Youth Crews worked hard to care for critical conservation lands in BC. Following careful COVID protocols, including having smaller crews and size-limited community events, young people donned their safety gear and led the charge to manage habitat for vulnerable species. Kootenay crew member Ethan Ingham put it this way “This year has been different than those previous due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we have still managed to have a very productive and fun summer.”

The Nature Trust of BC hires young people each summer to tackle a variety of activities on conservation lands across the province and learn valuable skills for future employment. Training includes First Aid and Bear Aware as well as the safe handling of power tools. “I have had opportunities to visit and work on properties throughout the East and West Kootenays and witnessed a massive variety in the type of landscapes NTBC manages. It has been interesting gaining insights to the various ongoing projects such as wetland restoration and wildlife tree monitoring,” said Logan Robertson.

The crews performed on-the-ground work and attended workshops from specialists in the field on topics such as bird counts, and forest and wetland ecology. “My favourite activity on the crew this year has been setting up trail cameras. We have installed three cameras so far, one near the location of a bear den, another at a badger crossing, and the last one is on a major game trail. I think it is super cool to see the wildlife that call our properties home. It gives you a real view of why the work that we do is important,” said Ethan.

Many of the tasks entrusted to the crews are physically challenging and had to be performed outdoors in all weather conditions. “I would say the most difficult day we have had was pulling weeds at the Bummers Flats wetland site. We took the canoe and paddled through the wetland canals and docked at each island. They were all covered in purple loosestrife, so we spent the whole day hand-picking the weeds. It was a scorching hot day,” said Logan

The Kootenay crew members have many future plans that include conservation. Both Logan and Ethan are attending UNBC this fall in the Fish and Wildlife program with the goal of becoming a wildlife biologists. Logan hopes to return to the Kootenays to begin his career.

The Conservation Youth Crew program endeavours to hire local young people with a keen interest in their local surroundings. Ethan praises his home town of Cranbrook. “The surrounding areas are world renowned for their wildlife and have an abundance of different species around. We have endless mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and grasslands. There are so many unique and cool places around that you always have somewhere new to explore.”

In 2020, Conservation Youth Crews operated in the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, and the Kootenays. The Nature Trust is grateful to Wheaton Precious Metals for title sponsorship this year. The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Canada Summer Jobs (Service Canada), Crew Energy, Chris Cornborough, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Jim Walker Youth Crew Endowment, and The Tony Cartledge Fund helped fund the 2020 crews.