© Guardian photo by Mary MacKay
Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association (BBEMA) was the recipient of the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund’s one-millionth dollar this spring as part of funding for their biodiversity project, Conservation Partnerships — Enhancing Wildlife Landscapes. This summer executive director Tracy Brown, Chris Newell and other staffers planted more than 5,000 trees, increased pollinator diversity and improved fish passage in local streams.
Dollar for dollar the Prince Edward Island Wildlife Conservation Fund has made an indelible mark on this province.
And this year the awarded dollar amount tipped over the $1-million mark for funding that has been provided to local organizations and groups for the protection and enhancement of wildlife and wildlife habitats.
Money for these wildlife conservation projects comes from a $20 contribution made by anglers, hunters and trappers when they purchase their annual licence.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a watershed on Prince Edward Island that hasn’t benefited from the Wildlife Conservation Fund work,” says Doug MacEwen, chair of the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund (PEIWCF) committee.
The fund was created in 1998 and operated under the auspices of the provincial government until 2006 when it became an independent body overseen by an advisory committee of volunteers from the community.
Individual groups, such as the Hunter Clyde Watershed Group, Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Canadian Rivers Institute at UPEI, apply for funding each year.
The PEIWCF committee reviews each application and allots an average of $140,000 annually to projects for habitat enhancement, research and monitoring, and education.
“There are different groups coming on board all the time. The P.E.I. Bait Fishers group, which is promoting bait fishing with the youth and they put on youth fishing derbies, they came onboard last year,” MacEwen says.
From 2006 to date, more than 250 projects have been funded by the PEIWCF, most of which were habitat improvement projects.
This year, a new licence plate initiative organized by the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation, will add additional money to the fund coffers for education, research or wildlife and habitat restoration projects.
For an annual fee of $10 Islanders can purchase a special conservation plate, which has the same background of the new single-design plates, but also includes an image of one of five iconic species — blue jay, Canada goose, lady slipper, red fox or speckled trout — on the right hand side.
Jackie Waddell, executive director of Island Nature Trust, which is the administrator of the fund, says the income from the conservation plates is from the general public.
“It’s not from hunters, fishers and trappers. And all of the projects to date, the committee is trying to fund projects that have some connection — and sometimes they don’t have any connection — to those species of interest to those hunters, fishers and trappers who have provided us with that funding. Now we’ve got a whole new source of funding coming in from the conservation plates and the variety of projects that we could expand out into will be tremendous. . . ,” says Waddell.
“And with the addition of the funds from the conservation plate I can see the second millionth dollar is going to come up much more quickly because we’re going to have that much more funds to award to groups.”