Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS) is focused on caribou recovery in the Central Selkirk range of British Columbia, Canada.

ALCS has a vision of land use planning for caribou recovery that is transparent, cooperative, collaborative, evidence-based, and sensitive to the values and needs of affected communities.


Who We Are

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS) was formed following two well attended public forums discussing caribou recovery efforts around Nakusp, B.C. in 2019.

ALCS is a non-profit organization headquartered in Nakusp, designed to provide a local voice in land use decision making regarding caribou recovery efforts of the Nakusp caribou herd of the Central Selkirk subpopulation.

ALCS is composed of local groups, organizations, and individuals who use the backcountry and/or are dependent upon access to the backcountry for their livelihood. Membership includes representation from outdoor recreational groups, such as hiking, snowmobiling, and skiing; local industry, such as forestry, tourism and mining; and the local and regional government.

The ALCS Vision is a transparent, cooperative, and collaborative approach to land use decision making, where decisions about local land use are evidence based and result in integrated land use decisions that address caribou recovery while reflecting local values and needs.

Our Mission is to build and maintain a local area organization; to facilitate information sharing and involvement during the development and implementation of caribou recovery efforts and activities; and to advocate for ongoing, transparent, and meaningful community and stakeholder communication, consultations, and involvement in the federal and provincial governments caribou recovery efforts and activities.

In working to achieve the outlined vision and mission, ALCS is guided by the following Principles:

  1. ALCS will be the local leader in land-use decisions including the caribou recovery effort.
  2. Government recovery planning and activities must incorporate an inclusive, cooperative, and transparent approach; and strive for caribou recovery without eliminating activities on the land base.
  3. Recovery actions must be based on scientific, local, and indigenous knowledge with a reasonable likelihood of achieving a self-sustaining population.
  4. ALCS will reach out to network and collaborate with other groups across the province to gain knowledge, ensure that government(s) are consistent in the approach to implementing recovery strategies, and to ensure that socio-economic impacts of caribou recovery are consistently considered in decision making.

We are reaching out to others groups and individuals who share our Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles in hopes of diversifying and strengthening ALCS. We look forward to collaborating in the creation of a local, representative voice for caribou recovery efforts in our area and province.

Lichen Collection for Southern Mountain Central Selkirk Caribou

For a handy field guide, download and print our lichen collection handbook. Created initially for the Revelstoke Rearing in the Wild Caribou Maternity Pen and adjusted for specific operations with the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen project.

ALCS Lichen Collection Handbook

Other Helpful Materials:

Maternity Pen Project

The Maternity Pen Project, directed by the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society, is one of the management actions of ALCS, that can assist in the recovery of Southern Mountain Central Selkirk Caribou.

The maternity pen, located in the Kuskanax Creek area, near Nakusp Hot Springs, will be a safe environment for female caribou to bare and raise their calves, away from predators. Capture for the project will occur in the winter, and the caribou will then be released with their calves in July, when the calves are three to five weeks old.

Pen Construction

Dietary Habits of Mountain Caribou

Mountain caribou are an ecotype of woodland caribou. Mountain caribou exclusively feed on arboreal lichens during late winter when deep snow packs in the alpine facilitate easy access. Newly captured females cannot immediately be fed commercial caribou feed when they are introduced to the maternity pen, but rather must be transitioned from their natural diet of arboreal (tree) lichens at a rate of 10% change/day until they are eating 100% commercial feed (John Cook, pers. comm.). The preferred arboreal lichen species for mountain caribou are Bryoria spp. (Photo 1) and Alectoria sarmentosa (Photo 2) (Kinley et al 2006).

Bryoria spp.

Alectoria sarmentosa

Within the Columbia Mountains Ecosystem (CME), Bryoria primarily grows at higher elevations near treeline in old subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) forests (Kinley et al 2006), also referred to as the ESSF (Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir) biogeoclimatic zone. Alectoria is typically found at lower elevations within the Interior Cedar/Hemlock (ICH) biogeoclimatic zone, however both species often grow together with dominance dictated by elevation. Bryoria is generally a dark brown in colour versus Alectoria which is typically a light green colour.

Mountain caribou are known to prefer Bryoria over Alectoria although they readily consume both species. When possible, Bryoria is the primary species to be targeted for lichen collection for the ALCS project.

Lichen Collection Volunteers

ALCS needs volunteers to help collect lichen for each year the pen is in operation. Penned caribou will need approximately 115 kg of lichen each year, so we will need your help to collect!

ALCS will work with forest licensees in the Nakusp area to determine where and when they will be harvesting such that collection field trips can be arranged when possible. ALCS will organize group picks for volunteers. However, the public are welcome to collect on their own as well. If you are interested in collecting lichen for mountain caribou, contact ALCS to learn where, and how to pick lichen.

Those interested in group or individual lichen collection can send an email message to: Arrow Lakes Caribou Society al.caribou.society@gmail.com for assistance in locating and dropping off lichen. The ALCS will track names and hours of volunteer lichen collectors for project funding information.

For Kootenay Lake area volunteers, Friends of the Lardeau River will be organizing picking groups.

Friends of the Lardeau River is a non-profit society focused on environmental protection of the Lardeau River and the fish and the wildlife and ecological values supported by this river, the valley and the broader local ecosystems. Programs we run include providing mountain goats with alternate salt sources to reduce mortality along Highway 31, providing educational outreach about locally-relevant ecological values via our Speaker Series program, and monitoring water quality in the Lardeau River and its Tributaries. We are excited to collaborate with Arrow Lakes Caribou Society in collecting lichen for our local caribou herds and to promote education and outreach to youth about this unique species. 

FLR members are happy to facilitate transport of lichen collected by those living in the Kootenay Lake Area to the Nakusp area, where penning will occur. You can contact FLR at friendsoflardeaulichen@gmail.com.

Handling Methods

Collection & Handling Methods & Guidelines
• It is preferred that harvesters use latex or nitrile gloves to reduce the possibility of the transfer of scent and potentially disease or other contaminants to the lichen;
• Lichen can be picked directly from lower tree branches or from fallen trees with ease;
• Higher branches can be pruned using a pole saw and the lichen subsequently removed from the branches;
• Natural blowdown or recently felled trees provide substantial quantities in one location;
• Large branches should be removed from the lichen. Small quantities of twigs are not considered to be a problem but high concentrations of twigs are not palatable;
• Excess water and/or snow should be shaken off as much as possible;
• Lichen can be placed directly into Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) garbage bags but should not remain there for extended periods. Lichen should be removed from garbage bags as soon as possible (i.e. within 24 hrs) in order to inhibit the conditions that foster the growth of mold and fungus.

Drying Methods

Lichen needs to be air dried in order to reduce the likelihood of mold and fungus growth as well as to facilitate weighing in a consistent manner. ALCS can dry lichen for collection volunteers, if they are unable to do it themselves. Please note, any lichen which has not already been dried will need to be given to ALCS within 24 hours of picking.

The ALCS is also storing lichen in Nakusp. General procedures to follow are:
• Remove lichen from the collecting bags within 24 hours of picking, sooner if temperatures are warm (e.g. >10 C);
• Evenly spread the lichen in a layer onto wooden pallets, not exceeding approximately 15 cm depth. The pallets permit air movement underneath the lichen to facilitate drying. If weather permits, the lichen can be dried outside on a deck or anywhere else with good air flow and dry conditions;
• Allow the lichen to air dry for a minimum of 48 hours at approx. 20 C or until the lichen feels very light in weight and is evenly dried. Turn the lichen over if the bottom is still damp. Fans can be used to expedite drying, especially if the lichen is very wet;
• Remove any large contaminants such as sticks or concentrations of small twigs, etc;
• Transfer the dried lichen into mesh soccer ball bags (or equivalent). The mesh bags allow for good air flow which is critical to lichen survival and the prevention of mold and fungus growth;
• Weigh the bags of lichen. Tag the bags and label them with the weight (kg), as well as the
harvest location and date. Full soccer ball bags of lichen weigh approximately 3-4 kg each;
• Hang the dried, labelled bags of lichen outdoors under cover in an area with good air ventilation, ensuring that there is air flow between the bags (Photo 3);
• Keep an inventory of the quantities and species of lichen in storage.

Drying Lichen


Kinley T.A., T. Goward, B. McLellan, and R. Serrouya. 2006. The Influence of Variable Snowpacks on Habitat Use by Mountain Caribou. The Eleventh Mountain Caribou Workshop, Jasper, AB.


ALCS Recreation Partnerships: Mitigating Caribou Disturbance

The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society, the Trout Lake Recreation Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders follows a Stewardship Management Agreement (2021) which works to provide protection to caribou from snowmobile disturbance while allowing flexibility for snowmobile access by using GPS collar data from caribou to update in real time the areas that are open …

Successful Caribou Capture for Central Selkirk Caribou Maternity Pen

[April 6, 2023, Nakusp] – The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society successfully captured 14 caribou on March 28th from five locations northeast of Nakusp. Some of these adults were captured during 2022 operations, and some are new to the pen. The caribou are now in the maternity pen and adapting nicely. The combined effort of 37 …