2022 Wildlife Research Program Grants Recipients Announced

2022 Wildlife Research Program Grants Recipients Announced

Last month, City Light selected project recipients for the 2022 Wildlife Research Grants, funded by the Wildlife Research Program (WRP).

These projects aim to improve wildlife conservation and management within the North Cascades ecoregion as part of the mitigation program implemented by Seattle City Light for the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. Since 1999, the WRP has awarded more than 70 grants totaling more than $2.5 million.

This year, the Wildlife Research Advisory Committee selected three new grants, with additional funds being added to an existing project.

Researcher in the North Cascades mountains
Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

“The Wildlife Research Grants Program embodies City Light’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” says Wildlife Research Program Manager Ron Tressler. “By supporting these projects, we can better understand and protect various wildlife resources and habitats of the North Cascades ecosystem. The work funded by these grants will address long-term research needs for the region. We are thrilled to collaborate with this year’s partners and contribute to further education and training for new researchers.”

Information for this year’s grant recipients includes the following:

Project Title: “Will beaver dam analogs be an effective restoration strategy for ecosystem function in wildfire-impacted Pacific Northwest watersheds?”
Grantee:  Eastern Washington University
The grant will fund the continuation of a study that is assessing the effectiveness of man-made beaver-dam analogs which mimic natural beaver dams, in restoring aquatic and riparian habitat and water quality at sites where beaver reintroduction is not feasible or requires prior restoration. While the ecological benefits of natural beaver dams is well understood, there is little information available documenting the effectiveness of BDAs in restoring channel morphology, riparian plant communities, and nutrient retention in channelized Pacific Northwest stream ecosystems. EWU researchers will test the hypotheses that BDA complexes, like natural beaver dam complexes, reduce channel incision, increase transient water storage, increase sediment and nutrient retention, and improve riparian habitat in wildfire impacted watersheds in the Methow and Okanogan River basins.

Project Title: “Fine-Scale Structure, Genetic Diversity, and Demography of Canada Lynx in the Okanogan Management Zone, and Connectivity with Southern British Columbia” 
Grantee:  Cascades Carnivore Project
The WRP grant will provide funding to this non-profit wildlife research organization, Cascades Carnivore Project, that works to promote the conservation of mountain carnivores and alpine ecosystems through community engagement, scientific research, and collaboration. The project will provide information on the population of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), a state endangered and federally threatened species, in the North Cascades Ecosystem of Washington and southern British Columbia to help inform management as climate change affects regional snowpack conditions. There may be fewer than 40 Canada lynx remaining in the state of Washington. By analyzing DNA from hundreds of tissue, hair, and scat samples collected throughout the North Cascades, the researchers will estimate the population sex ratio, genetic diversity, and evidence of reproduction, which will enable the assessment of connectivity and fine-scale population structure in the face of climate change and continued habitat degradation. This project will support two undergraduate students in the Sustainability Pathways program at Western Washington University.

Project Title: “Lynx population viability in a dynamic ecosystem. Implications of wildfire and climate change on lynx habitat and populations in the North Cascades” 
Grantee: Wildlife Conservation Science Institute
The WRP grant to the Wildlife Conservation Science Institute will fund state-of-the-art habitat and population modelling to assess wildfire and wildfire management in a changing climate. This will provide land managers with information to develop strategic forest restoration treatment plans and fire suppression tactics, while evaluating how those plans and tactics influence lynx populations. The study will assess the viability of the lynx population with wildfires and climate change considered and identify forest restoration and wildfire suppression strategies to protect or enhance lynx population viability in the North Cascades.  It is envisioned that land management agencies such as U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service may benefit from this management tool.

Project Title: “North Cascades streamfly diversity and distribution” 
Grantee: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
The WRP are providing additional grant funding to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for year two of its study on streamfly (stoneflies and caddisflies) diversity in glacier-fed streams of the North Cascades. The WDFW recognizes fourteen potentially at-risk stonefly and caddisfly species, and two others have global NatureServe ranks of imperiled; at least three of these species have been known to occur in the North Cascades ecoregion.  The study will result in information on aquatic streamfly diversity, abundance, and phenology at individual sites and further define species ranges using detection/no-detection surveys at sampling sites throughout the ecoregion. Results will be used to help identify conservation priorities and management actions for alpine and subalpine ecosystems.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients! For more information about the Wildlife Research Grants Program and for a list of previous recipients.

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