Region 4W- West Kootenay

Adam Kowalyshn - Nelson District Rod and Gun Club

Lawrence Redfern - Castlegar & District Wildlife Association


Adam Kowalyshn - Nelson District Rod and Gun Club

Adam Kowalyshn’s interest in conservation stemmed from his work as an elementary school teacher. Unlike many educators, Adam rejected the “textbook” approach when it came to his science teachings and opted for a more hands on approach. The school’s nearby forest and creek became the classroom and undoubtedly the children’s first taste of real research. For example, students might study the differences between canopy layers in the forest, the animal life associated with specific trees, or simply the different types of tree species in the area. After his retirement in 1995, Adam became more active in the Nelson District Rod and Gun Club (NDRGC) by regularly attending meetings and working on the club’s fundraiser banquets. Later, he was voted in as the new recording secretary and became more involved in the Cottonwood Creek project. Eventually he was nominated to be the Cottonwood Creek Coordinator. Since 2003, Adam has been the official coordinator.

Even before Adam’s official involvement, the NDRGC were involved for many years aiding in the clean-up of Cottonwood Lake and improvement of spawning habitat at Sproule Creek. In the late 90s, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Restoration & Enhancement of Cottonwood Creek (part of the Kootenay Lake Freshwater Resources Society and NDRGC) partnered with the Selkirk College’s Integrated Environmental Planning Program (IEP) to plan development the Cottonwood Creek Strategic Land Use Plan. The plan was intended to help manage resources of the watershed while protecting the interests of the key stakeholders.

It seems fitting, given Adam’s background, that the educational system would once again become the focus of his involvement in conservation. In 2003, the plan’s development was integrated into Selkirk College’s Integrated Environmental Planning (IEP) course. After conducting field assessments, completing inventory reports, consulting stakeholders, and multiple revisions, the IEP class presented the final plan to the Cottonwood Creek Restoration & Enhancement committee in April, 2004. The riparian restoration component was developed in consultation with Pierre Raymond of Terra Erosion Consulting and the Columbia Kootenay Fisheries Renewal partnership Stewardship Advisor.

Adam’s role as a coordinator of the Cottonwood Creek Restoration Project was to apply for funds, acquire permits, hire paid personnel, secure volunteers, and over-see the results. However, coordination wasn’t Adam’s only involvement. He was also directly involved with planting and irrigation. Over 730 shrubs alone (12 different species) were planted by volunteers (below left), who were presented with decals showing thier support (below right).  The primary restoration efforts involved the installation of vegetative riprap to reduce bank erosion. Other aspects of the restoration involved the removal of a decommissioned bridge to create riffle pools for fish. Using mulch to control invasive Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), is also a continuing endeavor. With the help of Columbia Basin Trust and the City of Nelson, they also installed 3 storm drain filters, with a cost of $425,000, to reduce sedimentation and pollutants from entering the creek.

Years later, Adam believes that the initial goals were fulfilled. Free water sampling provided by UBC and the NDRGC’s sediment tests revealed that the water is now much cleaner. Species like the Rocky Mountain Dipper, Kingfisher, and whitefish were observed at the mouth of the creek while rainbow trout and Kokanee have also been spotted. Furthermore, locals are now more aware of the creek and even go out of their way to pick trash out of it. That being said, Adam believes that the number of filters still needs to be doubled.

Though much of the creek is restored, there is always potential for degradation. “There will be a big hurdle working with the people residing… upstream”.  Fortunately, the City of Nelson has incorporated Cottonwood Creek as part of waterfront plan. Kalesnikoff Lumber and Atco Lumber (companies that are logging in the or around the watershed) also both gave support for the CWC restoration project, stating that future logging will minimize impacts to the Cottonwood Creek’s hydrology. Currently, high water levels are providing a challenge so an automated water irrigation system is planned for installation early next year.

Many Fish and Game members want to participate in conservation work themselves, but don't know how to start, or think that the task is too daunting. We asked Adam to share some advice on how to approach new projects. He responded with a few steps:

  1. Look at the total picture - can the situation be improved?
  2. Set goals before setting a plan in motion.
  3. Work with a consultant who is knowledgeable in the field (ex: erosion control, stream bed improvement).
  4. Work with a consultant to estimate the cost.
  5. Apply for funding.

Financial supporters and partners of the Cottonwood Creek Project include: B.C. Hydro, Columbia Basin Trust, City of Nelson, Regional District of Central Kootenay, Terra Erosion Control LTD. Mountain Station Consultants, Fish & Wildlife Compensation program, BC Wildlife Federation, Federal Government, Selkirk College, Patagonia, and many volunteers.

 -Written by Jason Jobin



Lawrence Redfern - Castlegar & District Wildlife Association

In the below interview with Lawrence Redfern, we discuss some of the Casltegar & District Wildlife Association's many conservation efforts.

-Interview conducted by Neil Fletcher. Edited by Jason Jobin