In this issue:

Reflecting On Our Cooperation
Supporting Our Species - SOS
OCCP Action Team News
Partner & Conservation News
Conferences & Workshops
Events
Funding Opportunities
Resources

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

As we celebrate British Columbia in August, we invite you to consider how the Statement of Cooperation, that OCCP's 35 member organizations have committed to, supports BC's priorities and commitments for conservation:

"We believe that biodiversity is a key component of Canada’s national heritage."

"The Okanagan Valley is an area of uncommon richness of biodiversity. The mixture of large lake/riparian habitats, undeveloped grasslands and dry forest habitats host species that do not occur elsewhere in Canada, making the Okanagan one of Canada’s three most endangered ecosystems with international importance. The area also forms a biological corridor that connects the shrub-steppe habitats of the Columbia Basin with the grasslands of the Thompson Valley and coniferous forests to the north. The corridor is crucial for many species of birds that migrate through it annually between summer and winter ranges. It is also key to the long-term movement of species as they adapt to changing environmental conditions, including climate change. As the climate warmed after the last ice age, the corridor was the principal portal of entry of southern plants and animals into the dry grasslands of central British Columbia."

"We see a special place where species can continue to migrate between the interior of BC and the desert areas of the western United States."

Contact us today to find out how OCCP can help you meet your conservation goals! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The OCCP Would like to acknowledge and thank the following organizations for their financial support:

Supporting Our Species — SOS

Watching the wetlands

This time of year is usually when the Okanagan becomes especially aware about water conservation. One often overlooked aspect of water conservation is the vital wetland ecosystems. In July, OCCP partners and associates took part in the BC Wildlife Federation's Map Our Marshes workshop in partnership with the En'owkin Centre Penticton. This workshop aimed to teach local environmental professionals how to inventory the locations and characteristics of wetlands so they can be better protected. You can help by taking part in one of BCWF's wetland education programs, and by observing the wetlands in your own neighbourhood. Make sure to report your sightings of any rare species. Here are a few to look out for:

Hairy water-clover resembles a four leaved clover, and lucky to find because it is so rare that it is on the BC Red List of the most threatened and endangered species in the province. It lives in seasonal pools and wetlands, and in BC it is only found in a few places in the Thompson-Okanagan. There are only a few records of this species in the Okanagan around Ellison Lake, Swan Lake, and Goose Lake, so these areas are of special conservation value. It would be great to find more locations where these plants exist, so keep an eye out for them when you are out watching your local wetlands.

Cup clover is another red-listed clover, more closely related to the common 3-leaved clovers you find in your lawn, but it has distinctive whitish flowers. It is only found in seasonally wet seeps on southern Vancouver Island and in the southern interior of BC. In the Okanagan they have been recorded in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park and near Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. Since their habitat is only seasonal, it is hard to map and define it for protection.

False mermaidweed is a blue-listed plant with tiny white three-petaled flowers that appears in the spring in seeping slopes, and disappears completely during the hot summer months. It produces very little seed, and the seeds only survive for one year in the soil, so this species is very vulnerable to disturbance. This is one of several sensitive species protected by the Wrinkly Face Provincial Park.

Read more below to find out how collaboration can make an impact for the conservation of wetland habitats.

OCCP Action Team News

Partnering for water and wetland conservation

This year, OCCP has faciitated a number of partnerships to enhance water and wetland stewardship. We are currently supporting an Action Team in Vernon who is developing outdoor learning curriculum resource kits for teachers to help students ask "Where Does Water Go?". We also take part in local government sustainability working groups like the Water Stewardship Council, the Species At Risk Local Government Working Group, and the Wetland Leadership Team, which is working to develop and implement a wetland inventory and the Okanagan Wetland Strategy. This year OCCP is also helping local governments map lakeshore and stream habitats, assess the environmental impact of boats on local lakes, and inform regional growth. There are also a number of community groups that have requested help with source protection, restoration, and wetland construction projects.

There are a great many people dedicated to water and wetland stewardship in the Okanagan, but there is a lot of work to be done to ensure these highly endangered ecosystems are protected. We look forward to seeing how our partnerships help build solutions for wetland and water stewardship, and we would love to help you get involved in wetland initiatives. Contact the OCCP Projects Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Summerland Ornamental Gardens Centennial Celelebration

OCCP and a number of other environmental groups had a great time catching up with each other, and sharing in the celebrations for the Summerland Ornamental Gardens 100th Anniversary. Bus loads of visitors came through the gardens for tours, music, art, crafts, and food. They also had opportunities to learn about connectivity, spadefoots, water conservation, invasive species like quagga mussels, wetland stewardship, and xeriscape gardening. Thanks to all who stopped by to share with us.

Bald Range Team promotes restoration

An Action Team, including local fish and game clubs, Central Okanagan Naturalists, and Okanagan Trail Riders, has recently celebrated the arrival of some signage to help the group tell the story about their project. They have started a series of restoration projects at the Bald Range grassland to help control erosion on trails, invasive weeds, and forest encroachment. You can visit Bald Range, in the Bear Creek Watershed in West Kelowna, to see this important grassland and learn more about this group's work.

Partner & Conservation News

Participants in the Map Our Marshes workshop tour an En'owkin Centre wetland restoration site in Penticton, and learn that water-logged soil becomes mottled and "gleyed" or grey in colour

Map Our Marshes Workshop

BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF)

As participants in the BCWF Map Our Marshes workshop, we learned that wetlands are areas with water, plants adapted to grow in water, and soil that has been modified by the presence of water (mottled or "gleyed" soil). There are five main classes of wetlands: bogs, fens, swamps, marshes, and shallow water. Wetlands are characterized by how wet they are, how acidic they are, and how stagnant they are. We toured the site of an En'owkin Centre wetland restoration project, which is an important site for yellow-breasted chats, snakes, and plants of cultural importance.

It is estimated that 84% of wetlands in the Okanagan have been lost since 1800, and 50% of remaining wetlands are impacted by dams (there are 130 dams in the North and Central Okanagan alone). Wetlands only cover 1.4% of the land in the Okanagan, but they are extremely important for life here. The BCWF is working with the Okanagan Basin Water Board and several other partners to develop a strategy for prioritizing and enhancing wetland protection. They are developing a standardized form for conducting wetland inventories to help local groups get more involved in wetland stewardship, and enhance the information available to decision-makers. Do you have a wetland in your neighbourhood that you would like to adopt?

This important restoration site is home to snakes, insects, and plants of cultural importance.

Conservation Fund being established in the South Okanagan

South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP)

On July 7 th, the RDOS Board passed the service bylaw to establish a Conservation Fund for the South Okanagan region. The bylaw goes to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval, then back to the Board for Adoption and out for public assent later this fall.

If fully adopted, the South Okanagan Conservation Fund will collect an average of $10 per household, per year in the; City of Penticton, District of Summerland, Town of Oliver, and Electoral Areas of A, C, D, E and F, (excluded areas G and H represent Keremeos and Princeton).

Attributes of the fund include:

  • The Conservation Fund will be a regional, dedicated source of funding from a property levy of $10 per household
  • Conservation organizations will be able to apply each year for funding to support conservation work
  • The conservation fund could generate $450,000 each year to support conservation efforts in the South Okanagan
  • The potential to leverage monies from outside the community to match the conservation funds are significant

Water news from RDNO

RDNO has contracted with Geostream Ltd of Kelowna, to survey the existing Hanson Park riparian zone, obtain the required permits, and supervise the work of placing rip rap adjacent to the tea garden. This will protect our common assets and improve aquatic habitat in Cherry Creek. As a consultant, Mr Lorne Davies P.Geo can enable local landowners to obtain Sec 11 streambank stabilization permits for protection and stabilization work on their properties

Anna Page, who was a good friend and an advocate for Cherryville Water Stewards projects like Cherry Creek riparian restoration, water testing, and the Cherryville Water Protection project passed away July 17th at hospice. Anna, we already miss you at RDNO and Cherryville residents are grateful for your accomplishments on our behalf.

The Great Shoreline Cleanup comes to Bellevue Creek!

Wood frog at Bellevue Creek.

Long-time residents of a neighbourhood along Kelowna's Bellevue Creek Greenway, including OCCP's Projects Coordinator, recently participated in a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. In two short hours, they collected an enormous amount of garbage along 1 km of the greenway as they got re-acquainted with each other, and explored the flora and fauna along the trails. This team of neighbours will meet again in September to see how much garbage accumulates over the summer months, and to share in a neighbourhood celebration. You can organize a shoreline cleanup event in your own neighbourhood by visiting the Vancouver Aquarium website.

Splash Mob

Society for the Protection of Kal Lake and Protect Our Freshwater

Splash Mob on July 24th was a community day of action to raise widespread attention to the threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels. These mussels are knocking on our borders and if they arrive here, it will be the END of the lakes and rivers of BC as we know them.

Their goal was to have as many people as possible bring their watercraft and form a giant circle on Kal Lake, with a huge floating sign in the middle. This image was captured from above with drone footage and broadcast across Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Over 150 watercraft attended this event.

Environmental Advisory Commission

Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO)

RDCO is seeking to add members to the Environmental Advisory Commission. If you are aware of someone who may be interested in this opportunity, please feel free to forward the attachment as Planning staff is currently welcoming membership applications and inquiries.

The Commission works with staff to advise the Regional Board on the environmental aspects of land use planning and impact on environmental sustainability. Commission members will be selected on the basis of their demonstrated interest and participation in community matters, availability, work experience, knowledge and background in the environment. Meetings are held approximately once a month at the Regional District office.

To be considered for this volunteer opportunity, please submit a brief outline of your background and experience online, or by forwarding to the Planning Section:
Phone: 250-469-6227
Fax: 250-762-7011
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
In Person: 1450 KLO Road, Kelowna, BC

A link to the agenda for this meeting of the Environmental Advisory Commission can be found on the Enviornmental Advisory Commission webpage.

Fundraising for the Okanagan Rail Trail

The process to convert rails to trails is already underway along the Okanagan Rail Trail. The rail trail will provide a tremendous opportunity to experience and learn about the rich habitats of the Okanagan. It will get vehicles off the road, especially in Lake Country and Kelowna where the route will be used for safe commuting. It will connect communities, and people of all ages and abilities. It will be a legacy for future generations.

There are many opportunities for communities to help create this legacy, one meter at a time (1 m of trail = $160). All donations are received by the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan and the Central Okanagan Foundation, and will go towards the development of the trail in its entirety. Visit the website to find out how you can donate and get involved! Let's Make It Happen!

Conferences & Workshops

BCWF Wetlands Education Workshops

BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF)

Wetlands Institute, Lower Mainland
Aug 27- Sept 2, 2016.

See the BCWF website for more details.

Events

How Do We Get From Here to There? Travelling the Green Highway

Our gallery exhibit ‘How Do We Get From Here to There? Travelling the Green Highway’ is on display at the Osoyoos Desert Centre until mid-September. This exhibit focuses on connections between animals and their environment, and promotes the importance of preserving habitat corridors in our environment. The interpretive exhibits at the Desert Centre provide a unique backdrop to this discussion, and over 4,800 visitors have already had the opportunity to learn about habitat connectivity here this summer. This exhibit is funded by Environment Canada's EcoAction Program, TELUS, Okanagan Basin Water Board, Real Estate Foundation of BC, and Vancouver Foundation, with in-kind support from several education centres. The Osoyoos Desert Centre is located located 3 km north of Osoyoos off Highway 97, and is open daily from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. For more information visit the Osoyoos Desert Centre website.

Save the date: up and coming events at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre (ABNC)

Tuesday, Aug. 16th 5 - 7pm ABNC will be hosting Business After Five.

You can have a live raptor experience during Raptor Week (Aug. 16-20)!

August 31st to September 4th catch the ABNC Nature Trailer at the Armstron IPE.

The Wine & Wild Things Sparkling Gala and Auction 2016 will be held on Saturday, September 24 under the starlit sky at the breathtaking Sparkling Hill Resort. Our gala website and ticket sales will be launched shortly– stay tuned!

Art exhibit highlights Okanagan grasslands

Kelowna NatureKids will be going to Eain Lamont Park on July 10th from 1:00-3:00 PM to learn about the rock cycle.
Please RSVP to the Facebook event here:

Art exhibit highlights Okanagan grasslands

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC in Vancouver recently opened a new exhibit called "From Meadows Woodlands Far and Near". This exhibit features watercolour and woodcutting depictions of actual native BC pressed plant specimens from the UBC Herbarium.

OCCP's Projects Coordinator helped to highlight species from the Okanagan-Similkameen grassland ecosystems in this exhibit by providing technical advice and descriptions of key grasses for the woodcut series, and photographs with an overview of the ecology of the Okanagan for a feature specimen display. The artwork is extremely beautiful and educational, and there are a variety of themed interactive activities available to keep all ages entertained. Make sure you catch this spectacular exhibit before it ends September 4, 2016!

Funding Opportunities

The Environmental Youth Corps (EYC) Internship Program

The Environmental Youth Corps (EYC) Internship Program has received over $7.0M in funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons Program.
We are now accepting Phase 3 Applications until August 24, 2016. The EYC program is currently 80% allocated.

APPLY TO PARTICIPATE TODAY

Are you or your organization looking to hire? Eligible employers who work in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) can receive up to 50% of an intern’s salary (up to $15,000) for new full-time environmental jobs.

BC Community Gaming Grants

Government of British Columbia

This program allows eligible organizations to apply for gambling revenues to support a broad range of programs and services. Applications for environmental projects will be accepted until August 31st. For more information, visit the website.

Resources

BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer
Okanagan Wetlands Strategy [PDF]
Wetlands of the Okanagan
Wetlands of BC
Wetlands Action Plan of BC [PDF]
BC FrogWatch Program
BC Wetlands Atlas
Okanagan Habitat Atlas
BC Water Use Reporting Centre
Agriculture and water resources

Report rare species sightings to the BC Conservation Data Centre