That’s Cindy Verbeek, the coordinator of the Buck Creek Canfor Hatchery and Nature Centre, left, accepting a significant donation from Bulkley Valley Community Foundation director Dee McRae. (Contributed photo)

That’s Cindy Verbeek, the coordinator of the Buck Creek Canfor Hatchery and Nature Centre, left, accepting a significant donation from Bulkley Valley Community Foundation director Dee McRae. (Contributed photo)

Major grant finances Houston hatchery/nature centre improvements

Bulkley Valley Community Foundation presents cheque

A $105,000 grant through the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation is financing the conversion of an outdoor space into an indoor space at the Buck Creek Canfor Hatchery and Nature Centre in Houston.

“As much as we love the covered outdoor space that we currently have, this grant will enable us to close it in, creating a specific classroom (which may double as rental space for community use), two offices, and storage,” said Sarah Sutton who is the communications and administrative assistant at the hatchery.

She said the plan all along, when the hatchery building was designed and constructed, was to convert the outdoor space into an indoor setting.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds as they will allow the centre to offer year-round programming as well as more functional (and quiet) office space for staff,” Sutton added.

The grant came from a single donor and was provided to the foundation which then provided assistance to find a project that was a benefit to area residents and which met the foundation’s strategic objectives of improving the quality of life within the Bulkley Valley.

The hatchery and nature centre is a project of A Rocha Canada, an international Christian organization which promotes environmental education and conservation.

So far this year the hatchery and nature centre held a spring break camp for children, conducted its annual bird bioblitz count in May, released coho salmon fry in June as part of its ongoing hatchery program and held nature camps in July and August.

The ongoing hatchery program involving coho broodstock capture provided 9,900 eggs, almost meeting the hatchery’s capacity of 10,000 eggs, said Sutton.

Northern B.C. A Rocha coordinator Cindy Verbeek provided school programs in Houston, Burns Lake and Smithers through the spring and fall.

A first building for the hatchery and nature centre was completed in 2017, replacing a tent and shed. An expansion to add an indoor space as well as the outdoor space which is now to be converted to an indoor space took place in 2020. The community foundation provided financial assistance for that project.

This year’s grant is the second for 2022 of what the foundation calls “community impact grants” with the first for $100,000 going to the Witset First Nation to support its project to revitalize the community’s ball park.

The Bulkley Valley Community Foundation has been providing grants since the 1990s within the area extending from Topley to Kitwanga including Granisle, Houston, Telkwa, Smithers, Witset and the Hazeltons.

Its broad fields of interest are education, social/family, fine arts, cultural, health, youth, community and sports/recreation.

Foundation directors come from within the region it serves. It has an office in Smithers.

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