Monthly Archives: September 2013

RDKB to host forum on building resilience to climate change in the Boundary

The climate is changing. Warmer temperatures, rising oceans, and shrinking glaciers are on the top of people’s minds, but how will climate change affect our communities in the Boundary, and what can we do to adapt?

On the evening of September 26 in Christina Lake, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) will be hosting a provocative and proactive discussion, “Flood, Fire & Famine: Forum on Building Resilience to Global Climate Change in the Boundary.”

“Climate change impacts will likely be severe in the Boundary and across southern BC,” said Graham Watt, Coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the RDKB. “Most of our forests could turn to grass and scrub in our lifetimes or our children’s lifetimes, and longer growing seasons combined with less available water will stress water supplies and aquatic ecosystems over the coming decades.”

The Forum will be hosted by Grace McGregor, Chair of the Kettle River Stakeholder Advisory Committee and RDKB Area ‘C’ Director. A panel of experts on climate, food systems, economics, ecosystems and watersheds (Greg Utzig, Roly Russell, Sandy Mark, Ryan Durand and Graham Watt) will share information on climate change impacts in the Boundary, and lead group discussions about how to build regional resilience to climate change.

“We know that this is an issue that will affect the whole world as well as every corner of the Boundary,” said McGregor. “How can we work together to develop regional solutions to these challenges?”

“We look forward to seeing what kinds of ideas and initiatives participants want to discuss – everything from water conservation to tourism development to ecosystem restoration will be on the table,” said Watt. “What we’ll need is new understanding, and new energy, to develop the relationships and capacity to implement the solutions discussed at the forum.”

The Regional District is inviting people from multiple sectors, including public works staff, members of business, industrial, forestry, stewardship and tourism organizations, and First Nations. There are also a number of spaces for the general public who can register at https://boundaryclimateresilience.eventbrite.ca/ .

This forum is a free event made possible by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and RDKB Electoral Area ‘C’. It includes a dinner featuring local food. Contact Graham Watt (plan@kettleriver.ca) for more information.

Draft Agenda:

  • 6:30 – Welcome (Grace McGregor)
  • 6:35- 7:30 – Dinner featuring food from local producers
  • 6:40-7:10 – Keynote Presentation: What is climate change and how will it affect life in southern BC? (Greg Utzig, Conservation Ecologist & Soil Scientist)
  • 7:10-7:45 – Four lenses for climate change resilience in the Boundary: Food systems, water resources, ecosystems and economics (Roly Russell, Graham Watt, Ryan Durand, and Sandy Mark)
  • 7:45-8:00 – Questions for panel
  • 8:00-9:00 – Group discussions on resilience challenges and strategies in the Boundary
  • 9:00-9:30 – Sharing of highlights (Graham Watt to facilitate)
  • 9:30 – Closing (Grace McGregor)
View of the Grand Forks valley in December 2011. Winters will bring less and less snow to the valleys because of climate change (Graham Watt)
View of the Grand Forks valley in December 2011. Winters will bring less and less snow to the valleys because of climate change (Graham Watt)

Kettle River Q&A – How is that plan coming along?

“How is that watershed plan coming along?”

I’m hearing that question a lot lately. I’m happy to hear that people are interested, and know that we need to keep everyone in the loop about progress towards the watershed management plan.

We are entering an exciting phase as the Stakeholder Advisory Group is beginning to discuss solutions to the watershed issues and challenges identified over the last several months.

We will be releasing several short “discussion papers” on the website over the coming months to help the citizens of the Boundary and other stakeholders become better informed about the challenges affecting the Kettle River watershed, and better able to participate in developing and implementing solutions.

The first paper, “A Vision for the Kettle River Watershed,” includes a draft vision and goals for the Kettle River Watershed, a summary of watershed management challenges, and an overview of potential strategies for achieving the goals. It is available on our website at http://kettleriver.ca/what-we-are-planning/discussion-paper1/

It is the first of several papers that will propose strategies and actions to be included in the watershed management plan, which will be finalized in 2014.

The Advisory Group recognizes the vital importance of reliable, quality water and healthy aquatic ecosystems for our communities, and recommends the following draft vision statement: “We envision a healthy, resilient and sustainable Kettle River watershed, that functions to meet community needs and values, and communities that act as stewards of the watershed.”

This vision statement is accompanied by three overarching goals: 1) Healthy aquatic ecosystems sustain native biodiversity and aquatic life; 2) Safe & secure water supports healthy communities; and 3) Reliable, quality water supplies support a sustainable economy and food system.

We recognize that there are many challenges to meeting these goals. For instance, naturally low flows in late summer are made worse by high water use. Changes in the climate and land use are affecting the reliability of water supplies and aquatic ecosystem health.

We know that cumulative changes within the watershed impair water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and recreational and other values that are important to Boundary businesses and citizens. We also know that our communities and organizations are not strong enough, in terms of money, human resources, and governance, to respond effectively to challenges across the Kettle River Watershed.

So what can we do – as communities, businesses and individuals – to respond to the challenges we have in the Kettle River watershed?

As a starting point, we propose four strategic directions: 1) Increase community understanding, support and capacity for stewardship; 2) Improve the quality, reliability and security of water supplies through sustainable management of water resources; 3) improve watershed health and function; and 4) Maintain or enhance recreational, cultural and amenity values.

Participants at the 2013 BCWF Wetlandkeepers Workshop at Boothman's Oxbow Provincial Park, June 2013
Participants at the 2013 BCWF Wetlandkeepers Workshop at Boothman’s Oxbow Provincial Park, June 2013

Forthcoming discussion papers will expand on these themes and identify options and actions to be undertaken by the RDKB, other stakeholders and citizens of the Boundary. We look forward to receiving your input on this process at with the public that will be held throughout the Boundary this fall.

– Graham Watt is the coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the RDKB, and is working with a Stakeholder Advisory Group from across the region to develop the plan. Email plan@kettleriver.ca