Submitted by Kootenay 

Conservation Program

The Kootenay Conservation Program announced the recipients of its annual Conservation Leadership Awards last month as part of the 2023 ‘KCP Fall Gathering: Kootenay Connect Summit’ which was held in Cranbrook. For the East Kootenay the 2023 award recipient is Kat Hartwig, who was recognized for her leadership with Living Lakes Canada.  

Congratulations to Hartwig, founder and Executive Director of Living Lakes Canada. In her former position as part of the leadership team for Wildsight, Kat played a key role in many large-scale, environmental conservation initiatives in the East Kootenay – from the campaign to fight the proposed ski resort for Jumbo Valley (a key grizzly bear and wildlife corridor located in the Purcell Mountain Range), to the removal of 300 cars that historically had been dumped into the Wilmer wetlands, to helping the Columbia Wetlands obtain its international RAMSAR Designation.

Since 2010, she has brought that same passion to her role with Living Lakes Canada, and has spearheaded the development of numerous Kootenay-wide water stewardship programs, including a community-based lake stewardship model that led to the development of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors; the East Kootenay Integrated Lakes Management Partnership (EKILMP); the Columbia Basin Foreshore Inventory and Mapping for Aquatic Species at Risk Project; the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program; the open source Columbia Basin Water Hub database; and the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework project that’s helping track and understand climate impacts on the region’s freshwater sources.

Hartwig has tirelessly advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous voices in water management and valuing Indigenous knowledge in water policy and science. She’s also an empowering role model for young people and women in the water sector, with a strong desire to empower youth to make a meaningful contribution towards addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis facing their generation.

Her passion has led her to be recognized with multiple awards and as someone who ‘gets things done’ in Canada’s water world. Her dedication to fostering partnerships has led to countless collaborations, influenced the highest level of government policy, and advanced conservation for the Kootenays and beyond.