In this issue:

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

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

As we celebrate October, All Hallows' Eve, and the start of the time where darkness takes over the day, we invite you to consider how OCCP's Statement of Cooperation outlines priorities and commitments for environmental outreach initiatives in the Okanagan Valley. These outreach initiatives shine a beacon of light on urgent information that might otherwise remain hidden, lurking in the shadows.

Facing our deepest, darkest environmental issues can be scary, but when we work together it turns out better. Our Statement of Cooperation commits OCCP Partners in their belief that...

"…protecting this special place is our shared responsibility...
We intend to work through the many cooperative mechanisms currently in place to inform and involve local governments, community groups, educators, youth, workers, industry, and business. This will help ensure an open and transparent process of establishing priorities, identifying opportunities for effective cooperative action, and measuring progress. We will work with and be guided by community-supported, broad-based planning initiatives that affect the Okanagan natural system. The Growth Management Strategies and Official Community Plans of Regional Districts in the Okanagan will be key planning tools that will help to focus our efforts in the Okanagan natural system.

OCCP Action Team News

OCCP exists in part to act as a hub of information and resources that help our community take action to improve environmental protection in the Okanagan. We have contributed to a number of outreach initiatives over the past month that we hope will inspire others to consider the environment in their everyday activities.

RespectFest

Respect Fest 2017 logoNorth Okanagan RespectFest 2017 was a week-long multicultural event in September with four main themes:

  • respecting our land and environment
  • honouring our indigenous history and roots
  • understanding our multicultural history
  • recognizing the strengths that diversity brings to our community and nation

OCCP appreciated the opportunity to be a part of RespectFEST 2017, with assistance from the Education and Outreach team at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre. "How Do We Get From Here To There: Travelling the Green Highway" joined the wide range of exhibitors and activities that brought the community together for this week-long celebration.

A true community partnership, RespectFEST was spearheaded by the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan, the Allan Brooks Nature Centre, and the Downtown Vernon Association. RespectFest was funded by the Government of Canada as part of Canada 150.

BC Nature Fall General Meeting

"How Do We Get From Here To There: Travelling the Green Highway" was also highlighted at the recent BC Nature Fall General Meeting, which is one of the annual meetings of the naturalist clubs in BC. This year's meeting was hosted in Vernon by the North Okanagan Naturalists Club. OCCP spoke with a number of the meeting participants during opening registration, and there was a great interest in the outreach materials over the course of the weekend.

One local community member was interested in whether local government would be interested in purchasing her 280 acre property as a park. We discussed the options and limitations that local governments have for park acquisition, and other options for protecting the land, such as partnering with Land Trusts like the North Okanagan Parks & Natural Areas Trust (NOPNAT), and the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT).

Over the course of the weekend 122 participants took with them:

  • 43 copies of the "Sensitive Ecosystems of the Okanagan" booklet
  • 33 copies of the UBCO-BRAES research team's "Ecosystem Connectivity" booklet
  • 19 "Environmental Mapping in the Okanagan" resource lists
  • 17 pamphlets from the Grasslands Conservation Council about the disappearing grasslands of BC
  • and more!

OCCP also really enjoyed the opportunity to connect with members of the North Okanagan Naturalists Club.

Right of Way: Where Digital Arts and Science Intersect

OCCP has been collaborating with Dr. Aleksandra Dulic, and her partners and research team in the UBCO Centre for Culture and Technology, for nearly two years. This interdisciplinary art-science team has worked on developing a series of interactive digital touch-screen exhibits that encourage participants to see the Okanagan from the perspective of our local wildlife, and highlight the challenges that animals face in a fragmented landscape.

Right of Way (2016-17) and Keeping Connectivity in Our Future (2017) feature interactive elements accessible to all ages.  The exhibits, funded by TELUS, bring awareness to the complex issues around keeping nature connected, and they help make it accessible to all ages.

Right of Way: Wildlife Corridors and Ecological Connectivity in the Okanagan (2016-2017) is an interactive virtual map environment. Participants can touch the screen and learn about why connecting the landscape is important for creating healthy habitats. As participants advance through the watershed zones, the suspended map changes, and they can read about wildlife at risk in each part of the Okanagan.

Keeping Connectivity in Our Future (2017) is a touch-screen exhibit that highlights mapping and an interactive 3D environment that encourages participants to think from the perspective of a bee. The exhibit offers the opportunity to visit a 3D demonstration pollinator garden, and try re-planting a lawn with plants that would make an ideal bee habitat! Both of these exhibits were on exhibition over the summer at the Penticton Museum. Watch for these exhibits at the District of Lake Country Municipal Hall, starting in mid-October.

Digital depiction of an animal's point of view
The Keeping Connectivity in Our Future (2017) exhibit featured a touch-screen depicting a 3D environment seen from the perspective of a bee.

Ecological Corridors In Lake Country

Dr. Lael Parrott, Director of the Complex Environmental Systems Lab at UBCO, and OCCP presented to the District of Lake Country Mayor and Council on September 19th.  The purpose of this Delegation was to outline the concepts of ecosystem connectivity, introduce planning for an Okanagan Mountain to Kalamalka Lake Ecological Corridor, and discuss the opportunity to consider the proposed regional pilot corridor in Lake Country planning and policy, such as the scheduled review of the Official Community Plan.

OCCP has also worked with Lake Country staff this month to bring "How Do We Get From Here To There: Travelling the Green Highway" into the foyer of the municipal hall. This exhibition is intended to help the citizens of Lake Country also connect with the idea of ecological corridors. Ecological corridors cross all lands in the Okanagan (e.g., for bees and badgers), and everyone has a part to play in protecting essential ecosystems.

Part of this exhibition extends through the normal path taken by residents to get from the front door to the public library. It is marked "Wildlife Corridor - Keep Clear". This is intended to force people to travel off of their regular path, and think about how our local wildlife have to do this as they travel across landscapes fragmented by development. Keeping natural green spaces connected and protected is essential for everyone.

Implementing Recommendations of the 2016 FIM Update Report

OCCP and Ecoscape Environmental consulting completed the reporting on the findings of the 2016 Foreshore and Inventory Mapping to local and regional governments with a presentation to the City of Vernon on September 18th.

This presentation, and others to the RDOS Board and the RDCO Governance and Services Committee, focused on the results of the data collected last year that showed:

  • 59% of the shoreline of Okanagan Lake has been developed
  • while 41% is in its natural state

Since 2011, 4.1 km of the natural area along the lakeshore was lost or permanently altered. Key changes to the shoreline included the removal of native vegetation, construction of 165 retaining walls that altered 1.45 km of shoreline, 164 new docks, 9 new marinas, and more road access and general landscaping. Lakebed materials were also disturbed along 4.1 km of the shoreline.

Rural and residential land use development has been an important factor in the loss of natural shoreline on Okanagan Lake. OCCP is working with the RDCO, the City of Vernon, the City of West Kelowna, SOSCP, FLNRO and Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society to implement one of the report’s recommendations to raise the awareness of the importance of shoreline and aquatic ecosystems, and is investigating the opportunity to implement the recommendation to develop a lakeshore management in 2018 with the OCCP partners.

Conservation Fund Concept Introduced in the North Okanagan

The South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) and OCCP presented at the September 20th regular Board meeting of the Regional District of North Okanagan, to introduce the newly established South Okanagan Conservation Fund, and discuss the opportunity to consider such a fund for the North Okanagan. The presentation included an overview of the Conservation Fund bylaw established by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in December 2016.

This fund will provide $450,000 for activities, projects and works for conservation of natural areas, and will address top public environmental issues including:

  • conservation of water quality and quantity stewardship
  • protection, enhancement and restoration of sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, wildlife species and habitat for native fish and wildlife

The intent is to provide funding for conservation projects that are not the existing responsibility of the federal, provincial or local governments. It was noted the financial support from the fund will assist conservation organizations leverage additional funding from outside the region, adding significant value to this local investment, and that an anonymous donor is willing to provide financial assistance to establish a conservation. Learn more about Establishing a Conservation Fund in BC.

Environment and Tourism Planning

On September 19th OCCP participated in a Destination British Columbia planning session held at the Kelowna Yacht Club. This session was one of many facilitated by Destination BC across the province, and brought together all levels of government, economic developers, First Nations, tourism businesses, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders to identify and discuss opportunities for long–term tourism growth.

The session reviewed issues and opportunities for sustainability in the tourism sector, including the factors and trends for tourists who want to experience nature and wildlife, and the importance of maintaining and enhancing natural areas.

This planning session supports other initiatives led by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), such as developing a Charter of Sustainability and acquiring a Biosphere designation. TOTA is working together with OCCP and other partners towards incorporating ecological and conservation issues into tourism planning. The Biosphere designation is the sustainable certification program designed for the tourism industry, and promoted by the United Nations through UNESCO, and under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (UNWTO).

For an opportunity to learn more about the Biosphere designation, Patricio Azcarate Diaz de Losada, a director of the Responsible Tourism Institute and a lead coordinator for the Biosphere Responsible Tourism Certification, will be presenting at the TOTA AGM in Kamloops on November 1-2.  Patricio will discuss the sustainability efforts his team have been carrying out internationally, and how it pertains to sustainable growth in the Thompson Okanagan.

Partner & Conservation News

Pollinator Pasture Update

It looks like bumblebees have also taken up a winter residence in one of the piles of soil that volunteers were using for planting native plants to enhance this site.
The bee hotel at the Public Art Pollinator Pasture is showing signs that bees have moved in!

In September, the Border Free Bees team finished a week long initiative to create a community art installation at the Public Art Pollinator Pasture at Brent's Grist Mill Heritage Park in Kelowna.

Native plants were woven into small baskets resembling shapes found in underground bumblebee nests

The team spent each evening teaching community members how to harvest and coil native plants into small baskets. The baskets made over the course of the week were combined into public art installations for the park, and are meant to resemble the shapes found in the underground nests of local bumblebees. Check out the new installation, and the progress of the plants added to the Pollinator Pasture for the bees, by visiting meadow today.

With technical support through OCCP, a small team of volunteers also salvaged and transplanted more native plants from a local development to help enhance the pasture for bees this month. The plantings that were done in the spring faced a very challenging spring and summer, but many of the plants have survived through the persistent volunteers, who carried buckets of water from their homes to the site over the summer to try to keep the new plants alive.

These diligent volunteers have also been battling with the weeds on site, and could really use some help. Please contact the Border Free Bees team if you would like to be added to the volunteer contact list for this project, and bee sure to check out their great resources page.

Many people in the Okanagan are also interested in growing milkweed to support Monarch butterflies. In fact, milkweed has been planted at the Pollinator Pasture by local school children and volunteers. The Xerces Society have just published some great tips for collecting and cleaning milkweed seeds.

Input Requested on a Three-Year Plan for Rare Species

A three year plan for terrestrial species to be considered for listing under the Federal Species at Risk Act (2016-2018) has been published to the Species at Risk Public Registry. The publication of the Plan is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide input or comments on such listing considerations.

Given that any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision, the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated. Environment and Climate Change Canada will continue to collaborate with all interested parties as the species move through the listing, recovery planning and other implementation phases of the SARA process.

Kelowna Agricultural Plan

Kelowna’s history and identity is defined by agriculture. With over half of Kelowna’s land zoned for agriculture, it is a key consideration in the City’s community planning, economic development, and environmental sustainability.  Yet, this land is often at risk as it tends to be flat, affordable, geographically appealing and often well located, making it attractive for urban development. This past August, Kelowna City Council gave a (green) thumbs-up for a new Agriculture Plan for Kelowna.

This new Plan focuses on providing clear policy and land use direction, ensuring City agricultural policies are current, accurate, defendable and aligned with other major corporate policy documents as well as provincial standards. The Agriculture Plan is an important opportunity for the City of Kelowna and the agricultural sector to work towards the following goals:

  • Develop clear policies that serve to protect and promote agriculture;
  • Identify opportunities to strengthen farming as an economic driver;
  • Increase the amount of, and access to, locally grown and produced food;
  • Promote and celebrate the agricultural character of Kelowna; and
  • Build resilience in communities against rising costs of food and risks from climate change.

The Plan presents 51 actions the City can take a lead in implementing.  It further acknowledges that the participation of local governments, senior levels of government, agricultural businesses, community organizations, and the public is essential to realize a resilient agricultural sector. For more information visit the City of Kelowna website.

On the Lookout for Bovine Tuberculosis in the Wild Deer Population

The wildlife health monitoring program for Bovine Tuberculosis (BTb) in MU8-23 is again underway to confirm the disease is not present in the wild deer population. The collected heads are being sampled for BTb in response to positive cases in cattle in the Cherryville area several years ago. We are testing to ensure that it has not become endemic to the wildlife as once the disease is established in a wildlife population it is difficult to eradicate. Results from past years sampling are negative.

Ongoing surveillance with a target of 60-70 samples per year is our goal to ensure the wildlife deer remain BTb free.

Help Spread the Word About this Program!

In hope of reaching the target sample size for head submissions, we request that everyone who reads this article disseminate information about the monitoring program to:

  • hunters
  • friends and family
  • game club members
  • social media and hunting forums

This year we are again pleased to announce that we have a junior hunter draw sponsored by Kencraft Sales in Lavington and a hunter draw prize donated by Fisher’s Home Hardware in Vernon.

The drop-off freezer locations within the Lumby/ Cherryville area are:

RT Ranch Sausage & Custom Cutting
Rory Griffin, 1-250-547-0129
39 Byer Road, Cherryville

Sundowner Meats & Deli
Uwe Lauterbacher, 1-250-547-1463
2611 Hwy 6 (Hwy 6 & Creighton Valley Road just east of Lumby)
Lumby BC

Drop-offs are accepted during opening hours and after hours 6-11pm by appointment. Or you can call Susan in Lumby at 250-547- 9207 to arrange for a drop-off

Along with the North Okanagan drop off locations if individuals so desire they can contact any BC Ministry office and deliver the head to a wildlife biologist or Conservation Officer. If you have any questions about this please feel free to contact Susan at the number noted above or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Cait Nelson, Provincial Wildlife Health Biologist (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). To learn more about the Wildlife Health Program visit the website.

Supporting Our Species - SOS

Creatures Lurking in the Okanagan this Halloween...

Bats are a Halloween favourite. They come out at night, can fly, and have a mystical ability to hunt with sound.

In Canada, the pallid bat only occurs in the southern Okanagan Valley, where it is found only in a localized area between Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos. Pallid bats are one of the few desert and grassland-obligate bat species, due to their foraging technique of taking large prey, like beetles and crickets, from the ground. They also use rocky outcroppings, areas near water, and sometimes buildings.

Humans pose the biggest danger to bat populations, and some people who fear bats will even kill them. Although a female bat can produce many offspring over her lifetime, most only have one young per year. Consequently, if many bats die or are killed within a short time, the population may take a long time to recover. For more information, see the BC Community Bat Program website.

Spiders are frequently seen around the Halloween season. Arachnophobia is a common fear, and the author was certainly getting the heebie-jeebies researching our BC spiders. It may frighten you to learn that out of 781 species of spiders in BC, none were listed as rare "Spiders At Risk". However, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no rare spiders here, as there are large gaps in the records.

In case spiders themselves aren't Halloweeny enough for you, there is a creature in the Okanagan called the ghost spider (Anyphaena pacifica). Globally, this species is only found from BC & southwestern Alberta to New Mexico. As you might expect for such a ghostly species, there aren't many photos of them. However, one Okanagan photographer has captured several photos of this species.

According to BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer, monsters and zombies do not exist in BC. There is, however, something known as an erupting toad...which isn't a toad at all! It is a toad-like rare lichen that grows over rock in open arid sites, only from southern BC to California, especially in the bunchgrass zone.

Can you think of any ways you can get involved to support these local lurkers?

Conferences & Workshops

Pacific Northwest Section, Society for Range Management 2017 Annual Meeting and Symposium

The symposium will focus on discussions of collaborative approaches to managing a complex landscape. This landscape (the plateau east of  the Okanagan Valley) supplies drinking and irrigation water, supports timber, recreation, wildlife and grazing activities all in close proximity to the urban areas of the Okanagan.  The tour will take you onto the plateau where most of the research has happened. Visit the website more information.

Location: Prestige Hotel and Convention Centre, Vernon, British Columbia Time: October 3 - 5, 2017

The Professional Practice Guidelines - Legislated Riparian Area Assessments in British Columbia

There are two opportunities coming up to learn more about Professional Practice Guidelines for Riparian Area Assessments:

Building SustainABLE Communities conference

Restoration for Resilience Conference

The SER Restoration for Resilience conference will be in Burnaby, BC from February 13-17, 2018.

Abstract Submission Deadline: October 6th.
In 250 words or less, develop your abstract for Restoration for Resilience. Don't miss out on your opportunity to present at our conference in Burnaby, BC from February 13-17, 2018.  Submit your abstract here.

Volunteers Wanted!
We are on the lookout for creative, hardworking individuals who can help out for 8-10 hours during Restoration for Resilience.  You have your choice of several roles, and enthusiasm is the primary qualification! As an added bonus, volunteers will receive a discount on registration - not to mention a free T-shirt. Sign up to volunteer

Visit the website for more information, and to contact the team with your questions.

Events

Water Inspiration

Water Inspiration: October 26, 7 pm, Schubert Centre.
Sponsor: Sustainable Environment Network Society.

If we’re masters of our own destiny, how can you act and be proactive with water to prevent environmental damage  “before it’s too late” ? Hear of successes elsewhere that we can learn from and use locally. We welcome your input and action planning!

Funding Opportunities

The City of Vernon

Application Deadline: November 14
The Environmental Planning Assistant has launched a Sustainability Grants program for up to $1000 per small projects open to community and non-profits contributing to Vernon. Read more here.

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation Enhancement & Restoration Grant

Application Deadline: November 2
These grants are provided to projects that: focus on freshwater wild fish, native wildlife species and their habitats; have the potential to achieve a significant conservation outcome; best represent the interests of the Trust Foundations' contributors, and maintain or enhance opportunities for fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing and associated outdoor recreational activities. HCTF enhancement grants are available to anyone who has who has a good idea that benefits fish, wildlife and habitat in British Columbia. Read more here.

Nature Conservancy of Canada Round 3 of Other Qualified Organizations (OQO) Program

Application Deadline: Ongoing until November 1
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is pleased to announce Round 3 of the Other Qualified Organizations (OQO) Program. Funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada and administered by NCC, the program will provide up to $5 million in support of conservation in communities across Canada. Land acquisitions closing between April 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018 will be considered under Round 3 of the OQO Program, and applications will be accepted until 5:00pm EST on November 1. Read more here.

Vancouver Foundation: Education and Training

Develop Grants
Open: October 2, 2017; Application Deadline: November 3, 2017

Test and Grow Grants - Stage One: Project Overviews
Open: October 2, 2017; Application Deadline: November 3, 2017
Read more here.

Habitat Stewardship Program

Application Deadline: TBA
As part of Canada's national strategy for the protection of species at risk, the Government of Canada established the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk. The overall goals of the HSP are to "contribute to the recovery of endangered, threatened, and other species at risk, and to prevent other species from becoming a conservation concern, by engaging Canadians from all walks of life in conservation actions to benefit wildlife." Read more here.

EcoAction Community Funding

Application Deadline: Fall 2017
EcoAction Call for Proposals will be communicated via email only. To be added to the distribution list, please contact your regional office.

The EcoAction Community Funding Program funds projects across Canada to encourage Canadians to take action to address clean air, clean water, climate change and nature issues, and to build the capacity of communities to sustain these activities into the future. Read more here.

RBC Blue Water Project Community Action and Leadership Grants

Application Deadline: Open now.
The RBC Blue Water Project is a wide-ranging program dedicated to protecting the world's most precious natural resource: fresh water. We support initiatives that help protect water in our growing towns and cities.  Read more here.