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The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (the "CVWMA"), located in the Creston Valley of British Columbia is 7,000 hectares of wetland habitat for hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including 300 species of birds, 60 of mammals, 17 of fish and 6 each of reptiles and amphibians. It has been designated a wetland of international importance under the UNESCO Ramsar Convention: www.ramsar.org.
The wetland attracts more than 35,000 visitors per year. The CVWMA is managed by a Board consisting of a representative from each of the Province of B.C. and the Federal government. A third 'seat', for a member of the public, is currently unoccupied.
Among the assets of the CVWMA is a 5,712 square foot Interpretive Centre (the "Centre") originally constructed in 1974. The Centre has served educators, naturalists, tourists and visitors of all ages since then, providing educational and recreational programs and activities promoting ecological awareness, education and research. Funding the maintenance and operation of the Centre has diminished over the years. The Centre closed on October 7, 2017.
In January of 2014 the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area Interpretive Centre Committee (the “ICC”) was formed. It was chaired by RDCK Area C Director, Larry Binks. Other committee members included representatives from the Federal, Provincial and local governments, the Lower Kootenay Band and local and regional business and non-profit organizations. The mandate of the ICC was to investigate the condition of the current Centre and develop options for its future.
The ICC retained a consultant to perform the necessary investigations and make recommendations. A June 2014 assessment of the Centre demonstrated it is in significant disrepair: Interpretive Centre Facility Assessment Public consultations took place from June to September, 2014. Based on the information obtained during the consultations and input from ICC members, a CVWMA Options Analysis was prepared and published in April, 2015. The Report outlined several options for the future of the CVWMA and, in the same month, the ICC recommended the creation of a non-profit organization to take the steps necessary to locate land and develop a new Interpretive Centre outside the Wildlife Management Area. The Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre Society (KCDCS) was incorporated for that purpose on October 20th, 2015 Information about the current Board of Directors can be found here.
KCDCS's first year of operation was spent building member and organizational capacity and looking for a suitable site for a new 'Discovery Centre'. A site outside of the Wildlife Management Area was located and an application for exclusion from the ALR was made. The ALR application was eventually denied in October 2017. Meanwhile, KCDC held discussions with the CVWMA and local and government officials seeking support for a new 'Discovery Centre" and for KCDC to oversee the continuation of environmental education and awareness programs after its scheduled closure in October, 2017.
KCDC's is dedicated to keep programming going at the CVWMA. In 2018, KCDCS received support and financial assistance from the CVWMA as well as Columbia Basin Trust to continue prgramming for 3-5 years while the long term project to develop a new Centre is underway. A temporary facility was built in the parking lot of the old Wildlife Centre (which is closed due to safety concerns). The facility is open seasonally from May to Ocotber and offers a variety of programs, tours and events. For information please click here.
Progress on the new Centre in underway and includes receiving funding for pre-design and site assessment from the B.C. Rural Development Fund. The pre-design project is progressing.
We are committed to furthering the plan to build a Centre that will continue and expand upon the CVWMA's tradition of providing programming and activities that promote the preservation of the wetland and environmental awareness throughout the Columbia Basin.