Since 2008 Selkirk College’s Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC ) has provided the Columbia Basin Watershed Network (CBWN ) with mapping support.
Selkirk and CBWN have developed a process for helping member watershed groups identify mapping needs and scoping projects. Selkirk then hires a co-op student from the college’s Advanced Diploma in GIS to work with CBWN member groups over the summer.
Maps showing threats such as forest or mineral tenures or assets such as trails dominate. General information maps are also popular: a map showing all the main watersheds around Kootenay Lake has been used the Friends of Kootenay Lake as a fund and awareness-raising tool for many years. We have also developed web applications and a physical model of a wetland that was 3D printed.
The partnership has lasted for 10 years because all partners benefit. The students benefit through the experience of working directly with a client – the watershed group – to use their new GIS and cartography skills. They learn project management skills including time management and communications. The member group receives a tool that can help them meet their stewardship objectives. Selkirk faculty are able to provide mentorship and technical support to the students while extending their expertise to the wider community.