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2013-14 Stewardship Project Summaries

A total of six projects were awarded $5,000 of Species at Risk Stewardship Program funding in 2013-14:

Breeding Bird Survey Routes 1-4

Project lead: Aurora Research Institute

Species at risk focus: Short-eared owl, rusty blackbird, horned grebe, olive-sided flycatcher, peregrine falcon

The breeding bird survey (BBS) program started in 1966 and covers all of North America. Currently, there are four routes in the Inuvik and Fort McPherson areas that are not being completed due to a lack of surveyors. This project will rectify this by doing point counts and training recent Environment and Natural Resources Technology program graduates how to do BBSs. There are seven bird species listed as ‘sensitive’ that occur in these areas.

Results were submitted to the regional BBS coordinator for inclusion in the North American-wide database. Before, during and after the field work, the project leader trained graduates to identify birds by sight and by song, and trained them to do BBSs following standardized national protocols. Results were also submitted to the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board and to local elders, as this project helps fulfill one of the Board’s research and monitoring interests. This is the second year this program received funding through the Stewardship Program. The data was pooled with data from previous years from across North America to determine trends in bird populations over time.

Gwich’in Species at Risk Brochure

Project lead: Gwich’in Teaching and Learning Centre, Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute

Species at risk focus: Drummond bluebell, short-eared owl, gray-headed chickadee, horned grebe (brochure will focus exclusively on plants and/or birds)

The Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute encouraged involvement in stewardship activities through outreach, education and awareness-building by producing a species at risk brochure highlighting species in the Gwich’in region. With the help of elders and translators, the brochure used both English and Gwich’in languages to provide general species and conservation information.

The brochure was distributed to all residential addresses in Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic. This brochure is the second in a series of brochures on species at risk in the Gwich’in region.

École St. Patrick High School Taiga Science Camp

Project lead: Yellowknife Catholic Schools

Species at risk focus: Taiga Shield ecozone – includes wolverine, common nighthawk, yellow rail, rusty blackbird, horned grebe, short-eared owl.

The École St. Patrick High School Science Camp raised awareness of local species and encouraged students to take an active interest in the conservation of wildlife, plants, and their habitats. Biology and Experiential Science students spent time on the land working and learning alongside species at risk, ecosystem and wildlife biologists, and Yellowknife Dene Elders. The camp provided youth with the opportunity to experience, study and appreciate the habitats, flora, fauna, and cultural importance of northern ecosystems.

A field study project was completed by the students, and included a presentation on species at risk, biodiversity (vegetation) and aquatic invertebrates and traditional knowledge in the area.

This project was also funded through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Dehcho Youth Ecology Camp

Project lead: Dehcho First Nations

Species at risk focus: Boreal caribou

The goals of the Dehcho Youth Ecology Camp are to help enhance community capacity through youth by exposing them to ecology-related topics and western science methods, and by promoting a better understanding of Dene cultural and land-based knowledge systems. The all-encompassing goal is for all youth to consider post-secondary opportunities and career choices in ecology-related fields.

Incorporating species at risk into the camp taught youth about species at risk in the north and in Canada, and about how human activity can positively and negatively affect the well-being of wildlife and wildlife habitats. The goal of the species at risk segment of the camp was to  increase understanding and awareness of species at risk issues, and how people relate to those issues.

DFN and ENR staff coordinated a lesson plan using traditional/community knowledge and science to teach about history, species at risk legislation, processes for listing species, status categories, and case studies using boreal caribou as a case study. This project was also funded in 2012-13.

Workshop and Exhibit of Species at Risk Paintings by Students and Artists

Project Lead: K’alemi Dene School and Kaw Tay Whee School

Species at Risk focus: Boreal caribou, hairy braya, polar bear

A local artist/biologist planned a series of species at risk-themed workshops in schools around Yellowknife. Biological and threat information was provided to the students to prepare them for planning their artwork.  The students selected a species to paint in its habitat. The collection of artwork was exhibited at the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre and at the ARCC art studio.

The goal of this project is to increase awareness of species at risk and biodiversity to students and the general public using the emotional connection between people and visual arts.