On Saturday, October 23, 2021, a team of volunteers and representatives from the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS), the Kootenay Native Plant Society (KNPS), and KinSeed Ecologies joined forces to create habitat for bees and butterflies at the Kootenay Gallery of Art, History, and Science in Castlegar, BC.
Through the creation and enhancement of a suite of native plant garden spaces, the objectives of the project are to showcase different plant communities that attract and support a wide range of native pollinators and to raise awareness and educate local residents about “meadow making” and native plant-pollinator conservation. Pollinators, including native bees and butterflies, are vital to ecosystem integrity and health and food security. Pollinators, and the native plants that support them, are also an important link in the ecological food chain because they are a valuable food source for other animals.
The garden enhancement efforts began several years ago when the Kootenay Native Plant Society helped to begin the creation of a Monarch Waystation on site by planting a variety of native wildflowers, like showy milkweed, to attract native butterflies. In the fall of 2020, Olga Hallborg, a Castlegar resident who is passionate about environmental action that addresses biodiversity loss and climate change, looked to the Kootenay Native Plant Society for guidance and training and, through this partnership, connected with Bren Beckwith, a KNPS consultant and ecological gardening expert with KinSeed Ecologies, based in Nelson, BC. Bren was hired as the project landscape designer and coach. In October 2020, Olga rallied a group of volunteers – the Castlegar Butterflyway Rangers – and began transforming the Gallery outdoor space into a pollinator friendly habitat by removing invasive plants and planting 60 native plant species that would support native bees and butterflies. The site is now an official David Suzuki Foundation ‘Butterflyway Station, as well as a certified Monarch Waystation (Monarchwatch.com).
The project expanded in 2021 when Olga reached out to CKISS to partner on garden enhancement efforts. Thanks to funding from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program’s Community Engagement Grant the organization was able to come on board to purchase native seeds and plants grown by KinSeed Ecologies, recruit volunteers, and provide equipment for another productive native planting day this fall.
“CKISS was thrilled to help with the Kootenay Gallery Garden Enhancement Project. Invasive species can negatively disrupt native plant diversity and this can, in turn, harm pollinators. By removing invasive plants and replanting with native species we are helping create habitat for pollinators who are so important in supporting the health of native ecosystems,” states Laurie Frankcom, Education Program Coordinator with CKISS.
With additional funding from Castlegar Community Foundation and Columbia Power Corporation, continued support from the Kootenay Gallery and Castlegar Communities in Bloom, and paid and in-kind support, materials and equipment, and guidance from KinSeed Ecologies and the Kootenay Native Plant Society, the transformation of the native gardens took a huge leap forward this year.
Under the continued guidance of Bren from KinSeed Ecologies, and with assistance from Valerie Huff and Terri McRitchie with KNPS, the volunteers planted a flowering hedgerow and border, seeded spreading dogbane on a neighbouring slope, removed invasive species, and planted over 100 native plants. These activities complement another workday on October 14, during which 24 students in Megan Read’s Grade 3/4 class at Twin Rivers School helped seed an 80 m2 pollinator meadow with wildflower seeds collected locally by KinSeed Ecologies plant ecologists
According to Bren Beckwith: “Native pollinators are in decline worldwide and the native plants that support them continue to be overlooked as essential components of one of the most fundamental ecological systems we have – pollination. Native plants and native insects have a co-evolved relationship and when truly native plants can be sourced, planted and nurtured, native bees and butterflies can continue to thrive. This is an exciting and ground shifting project at the Kootenay Gallery – we’re creating beautiful ‘rewilded’ exhibits outside the gallery building.”
This project is a wonderful example of local community partnerships, pulling together the expertise of CKISS, KNPS, and KinSeed Ecologies, and the support of the Kootenay Gallery, Castlegar Communities in Bloom, and Twin Rivers School to help the Castlegar Butterflyway Rangers advance plant-pollinator conservation and restoration in the West Kootenay region.
Thank you the following:
- The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program’s Community Engagement Grant for its contribution to the Kootenay Gallery Garden Enhancement Project.
- CKISS gratefully acknowledges our many funders including Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and the Government of B.C. for supporting the CKISS Education Program.
- CKISS acknowledges the support of its partners Kootenay Native Plant Society, KinSeed Ecologies, The Kootenay Gallery of Art.
- Additional support of the project as provided by Castlegar Community Foundation and Columbia Power Corporation, continued support from the Kootenay Gallery and Castlegar Communities in Bloom
- Thanks you to Bren Beckwith for contributing content for the article above.
What is the Kootenay Native Plant Society?
KNPS, celebrating its 10th year, connects people, plants, and place. This non-profit society is the region’s leader in native plant education, ecological restoration, and research. The native plant gardens at the Kootenay Gallery are part of a 5-year project called “Pollination Pathway Climate Adaptation Initiative,” occurring throughout the Lower Columbia Region and funded by the CBT Ecosystem Enhancement Program. For more information on KNPS, and the “Pollination Pathway” project, please see website: kootenaynativeplants.ca
What is Kinseed Ecologies?
Started in 2019, KinSeed Ecologies is a Nelson-based company that specializes in truly native seeds and plants and ecological restoration and landscaping consulting and coaching. Although focusing their work in the West Kootenay region, they have clients and projects in the Boundary, Columbia-Shuswap, and East Kootenay regions. Website: kinseed.ca