In this issue:

Monitoring Progress and Addressing Challenges

Reflecting On Our Cooperation
OCCP Action Team News
Partner & Conservation News
Workshops and Conferences
Save Our Species
Funding Opportunities
Resources

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

This June, we encourage you to identify challenges to biodiversity that you have the ability to improve, and establish a strategy for monitoring your progress in enhancing biodiversity over time. OCCP works to help our partners address challenges that arise throughout the year, and monitor local ecosystems to help keep biodiversity protected and connected.

OCCP's Statement of Cooperation commits OCCP Partners in their intention to:

" … continually monitor our progress and address emerging challenges.

In seeking to preserve and enhance the Okanagan natural system, we intend to work together in an open and accountable manner, monitor our progress and consider new priorities for action. We recognize that research, monitoring and evaluation activities will provide new information and may indicate the need to pursue new and different strategies. We are committed to changing our approaches, priorities and management as new information becomes available."

Large listing of the logos of OCCP partners

OCCP Action Team News

OCCP logoOCCP has contributed to a number of initiatives this month that support our partners in implementing strategies that address challenges and monitor progress in protecting Okanagan biodiversity.



Preliminary Survey of Smoke Lake

Smoke Lake
Smoke Lake is on Heckman Ridge near Cherryville

In mid-May, OCCP Projects Coordinator Tanis Gieselman joined RDCO Electoral Area Director Hank Cameron and a volunteer, Registered Professional Biologist Keenan Rudichuk, for a preliminary survey of Smoke Lake on Heckman Ridge near Cherryville. The main goal of this work is to identify which amphibian species are present at this wetland, so that their populations can be documented, and appropriate conservation policies can be adopted in the surrounding community forest. Amphibians were surveyed using the FrogWatch Call Survey Protocol and Data Form.

A Pacific Chorus Frog, one of the amphibian species observed at Smoke Lake

The team observed a Long-toed Salamander, a Columbia Spotted Frog, and a choir of Pacific Chorus Frogs during their first two visits to the site. The researchers also recorded information about the wetland itself, including recording a list of plants and ecosystems observed. There are several distinct wetland habitats around this lake, including a bulrush marsh, and a forested swamp with a slow-moving stream under a network of fallen logs, and a small area of sphagnum bog.

 

Bat Activity also Monitored

Example of a bat and call recorded using the Echo Meter system

While the team was listening for frog calls, they also took the opportunity to monitor the wetland for bat activity using an Echo Meter Touch 2 bat detector, on loan from the Central Okanagan Land Trust. Although the calls need to be visually verified by an expert, the Echo Meter auto-identification software suggests that the recordings detected:

  • Lasionycteris noctivagans (silver-haired bat)
  • Myotis californicus (California myotis)
  • Myotis ciliolabrum (western small-footed bat)
  • Myotis volans (long-legged myotis)
  • Myotis yumanensis (Yuma myotis)

The recordings also detected Myotis lucifugus (little brown myotis), a federally endangered.species, but the team cannot confirm its existence without capturing them, which is out of the scope of our study. The lethal fungal disease white-nose syndrome has been recorded in Washington state, and bat researchers are watching our local bat populations closely for signs of the disease, and are interested in recording baseline data about bat populations here before white-nose syndrome arrives in BC.

Mystery plants... arrow-leaved coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus var. sagittatus), a mystery from the first visit solved, and another to be identified during the next site visit

Official Opening of the Kelowna Paddle Trail

OCCP was pleased to participate in the official opening of the Kelowna Paddle Trail over the May long weekend. This 28 km paddle trail extends from McKinley Beach to Bertram Creek Park, and promotes non-motorized recreation along the lakeshore. The Kelowna Dragon Boat Racing Club took the lead on having 22 buoys installed along the trail, which include a list of the beach accesses and the distances between each. This makes it easier for paddlers to stay orientated along the water front, know when a rest stop is coming up and even challenge themselves between each distance. View the Active by Nature map to see the trail, and map out your next paddle!

Kayaks and a dragon boat, loaded with people, near the sandy shorelinePaddle Trail participants wave their arms in the air while standing in their watercraft

OCCP tent at the Kelowna Paddle Trail opening; visitorst expressed concerns about knowing where public crown land extends up to on the shoreline, how to keeping connectivity along the lakeshore, and how to reduce garbage dumps in our watershed

OCCP took this opportunity to monitor public opinion about their main concerns for the shoreline of Okanagan Lake, and provide information about keeping nature connected and protected. People that visited the OCCP tent expressed concerns about knowing where public crown land extends up to on the shoreline, how to keeping connectivity along the lakeshore, and how to reduce garbage dumps in our watershed (download the BCWF Conservation App, which helps back-country enthusiasts report poaching and pollution on crown land). OCCP is working with a number of partners to enhance information and outreach to lakeshore landowners and the public about the lakeshore environment, and how we can monitor and improve management of our lakeshores in the future. Stay tuned for more information next month!

Water Stewardship Open House Event at the Vernon Yacht Club

People listen to a speaker at the Water Stewardship Open House EventOCCP also connected this month with the public about their lakeshore concerns, at a Water Stewardship Open House event at the Vernon Yacht Club. People at this event expressed their concern that their neighbours retaining walls were diverting wave energy and causing erosion problems on their properties, how to landscape on lakefront properties, and how local Realtors could get more information and training to share with their clients about best management practices for lakeshore living.

OCCP info displays at the open houseThe Don't Move a Mussel truck at the Water Stewardship event

People around the tables at the open houseThis all-ages free public open house event was sponsored by the City of Vernon’s Sustainability Grants program, and highlighted ways that we can all work to protect our waterways. As our communities around Okanagan’s lakes grow, and visitors to our valley increase, there are many things we can do as individuals, businesses and organizations to keep our rivers and lakes clean and conserve our ecosystems. Even small changes like how we plant our gardens, innovative water use systems, and clean boating practices can make a difference.

 

Outdoor Learning Event for Anne McClymont Elementary Grade 3 Class

Student learned about the close connection Monarch butterflies have with milkweed plants

OCCP also worked with the RDCO Parks Department this month to support an outdoor learning opportunity for a Grade 3 class at Anne McClymont Elementary at the EECO Centre in Mission Creek Park. We explored how to identify insects from other animals, how to identify butterflies from other insects, and how to tell Monarch butterflies from other butterflies, like the Viceroy (which looks very similar, but it has a black stripe across each hindwing). We also discussed the close connection that Monarch butterflies have with milkweed plants, and observed and planted some seeds and plants of our native milkweed, the showy milkweed.

Partner & Conservation News

Applications Welcome for the RDCO Environmental Advisory Commission

Information flier about the RDCO's volunteer positionIf you are interested in future development in your community, the Regional District would like to hear from you. RDCO is currently looking for volunteer members to serve on the Environmental Advisory Commission. The group works with Planning staff to advise the Regional Board by reviewing appropriate development applications within the Electoral Areas for potential impacts on environmental sustainability.

Members of the Advisory Commission will be selected on the basis of their demonstrated interest and participation in community matters, academic and/or technical qualifications, availability, work experience, knowledge, professional expertise, and land use planning. Information about the Advisory Commission is available online or by contacting the Regional District Community Services by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 250-469-6227.

Comment on Provincial Wildlife Management Strategy and Species At Risk Legislation

BC Provincial Government logoBC's diversity of wildlife provides many environmental, cultural, social, and economic benefits to all British Columbians. The Province is seeking a better understanding of the challenges facing wildlife management and habitat conservation and is reaching out for a discussion among Indigenous peoples, rural communities, wildlife organizations, natural resource development industry stakeholders, and the public to identify ideas on ways to improve the way wildlife and their habitat is managed.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is looking for thoughts and feedback related to a range of challenges, issues and concerns, ideas solutions, engagement in future, and opportunities for developing more effective management tools.

Join the discussion on challenges and opportunities. Submit your feedback by July 31, 2018 at 4 pm here.

Recovery of species at risk is a responsibility we all share. The help of Indigenous peoples, government organizations, not-for-profit organizations, industry and natural resource focused businesses, and citizens is needed to ensure the conservation of species at risk. This year, 2018, will see new opportunities to participate as the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy moves towards their mandate to create new species-at-risk legislation. Wade in on three areas of discussion to help shape this new legislation.

Employment Opportunity

Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCC) logoThe Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCC) is seeking an Executive Director to successfully manage and deliver the organization's programs according to the strategic direction set by the GCC Board of Directors. This is currently a part-time contract position with full-time potential dependent on success of fundraising programs. The location is flexible with strong preference for Kamloops, B.C. This position is open until filled. Read more here [PDF].

Mussel Monitoring

Watercraft Inspection stations in the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program are now up and running. To date, B.C. is still free of highly invasive zebra and quagga mussels. To keep it this way, it is mandatory for all watercraft to stop at road side inspection stations. Watercraft include sailboats, motorboats, car toppers, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards being transported into B.C. Failing to stop at an inspection station is illegal and may result in fines. Click here for more information and a map of the 2018 BC Watercraft Inspection Stations

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HTCF) has approved the first round of grants from the new Invasive Mussels Lake Monitoring Program. Invasive mussel monitoring in British Columbia's lakes and rivers has been made possible by a $450,000 contribution from BC's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASIS) has received funding from this program in 2018 for our region. Funding will be used by proponents to undertake monitoring of substrates and plankton tow sampling for mussel veligers. The next opportunity to apply for funding from this program will be spring of 2019. Click here for more information on the program.

Identifying Invasives

The Okanagan Invasive Species Online website is now live! This new website provides Okanagan producers with a centralized source of information (a one-stop-shop) pertaining to invasive species identification and management . The website is designed for the agriculture sector and allows producers to search for invasive species by commodity, plant or pest name, category and plant/flower colour. The site also features an Ask an Expert function that allows users to fill out a form and be connected with an expert in their area who can assist with identification and treatment options, along with several other features such as maps and pest alerts.

Watching the Water in Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek has been swift, brown and dangerous with this rapid melt of record snow. Last summer‘s rip rap project at Hanson Park has performed well in an extreme year, to protect our community Park and the school’s water source. The strongest current is directed to the middle of the stream well away from the shore. The park’s upstream cottonwood flood plain has had swift flows of high water throughout May. The data collected at the Cherry Creek hydrometric gauge has been compiled and graphed so that it can be compared year over year or correlated to snow measurement data. This local stream volume data will inform BC Hydro, as well as other provincial and federal agencies.

Tracking Deer Declines

A new, large-scale research project, involving multiple agencies and universities, has started to tackle one of the most pressing needs in wildlife management in British Columbia – how to understand and reverse declines of mule deer in the Southern Interior.

“Mule deer declines have been a concern in portions of the southern interior since the 1960s, and decades of hunting regulation change have not reversed the declines”

— Jesse Zeman, Director of Fish and Wildlife Restoration, BC Wildlife Federation

The GPS collars in the Kettle-Granby, Peachland/Garnet Valley, and Cache Creek study areas track the deer movements every 4.25 hours and provide information on the deers’ habitat use, how they move across the landscape, which areas they avoid, when and how they die. When a collar is no longer moving, a message gets sent to the project team which allows them to investigate factors contributing to the animal’s death. Read more here.

Become a Bat Watcher!

Okanagan Community Bat Program is encouraging homeowners with bat colonies to participate in the Annual Bat Count. This citizen-science initiative encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites. No special skills are needed, kids can be involved, and you can relax in a deck chair while counting.

Bat counters wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-house, barn, bridge or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. They record the final number along with basic information on weather conditions.

Monitoring these colonies can give biologists a good idea of how bat populations in an area are doing from year to year. Ideally, 1 - 2 counts are done between June 1 and 21 before pups are born, and 1 - 2 more between July 11 and August 5 when pups are flying.

For more information, visit the OCBP website. Read OCBP's Spring Newsletter here.

With the occurrence of White-nose Syndrome in North America, monitoring these colonies is more important than ever. Also, remember to report dead bats to 1-855-922-2287 so they can be tested for this disease.

Workshops & Conferences

Lunch and Learn Webinar: Federal Wildlife Laws and Qualified Persons

June 14, 12:00 pm

QEPs! Here is your opportunity to renew and update your understanding of federal laws applicable to land use, and to learn about how to obtain a critical habitat permit and use it to provide high quality environmental advice. Dr. Darcy Henderson, Senior Species At Risk Biologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, will be presenting on the species at risk laws that apply in BC. Hear what your responsibilities are, and when and how to apply for a permit. Following the presentation, there will be a 'live' question and answer period. If you wish to submit questions about species at risk legislation and the permitting process in advance of the webinar contact SOSCP Environmental Planner Alison Peatt at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Register here. If you are not able to attend, please register so you can receive the recorded webinar.

Wetland Classification

June 21-22, 2018. Revelstoke, BC

The classroom portion of this Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology course taught by Ryan Durand will be spent learning about wetland classification, with a focus on using the provincial Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) system. Federal wetland classes will be discussed, as well as the physical and biological characteristics that can be assessed in the field in order to describe and classify wetlands. A day and a half will be spent visiting local areas to practice the wetland classification process in the field. Click here for more information.

Introduction to Willow Identification

July 9-10, 2018. Revelstoke, BC

Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology is hosting this "Introduction to Willow Classification" course. Willows (Salix) are among the most widespread, diverse, and ecologically important vascular plants in British Columbia, yet are well known as one of the most difficult groups of plants to identify accurately to species. This course aims to provide students with a sufficient background in the genus to help untangle some of these complexities and become familiar with the identification process in the group. Both in-class and in-field components will allow students to practice identification using taxonomic keys and other materials. Space is limited to 15 people. Register here.

Environmental Flow Needs – Science, Policy & Practice

October 17-18, 2018 in Kelowna, B.C.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Canadian Water Resources Association, BC Branch, are excited to host Environmental Flow Needs – Science, Policy & Practice. This conference will bring together representatives from national and international organizations engaged in water management or research, including fisheries and water managers, First Nations, regulators, policy-makers, academia, and NGOs.

We invite you to share innovative approaches to establish and protect Environmental Flow Needs (EFNs) by presenting your poster at the EFN2018 Conference.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • Methodologies for determining EFN values
  • EFN science and applications
  • EFN and fisheries
  • Ecosystems services and EFNs
  • EFN policies – opportunities and barriers
  • Collaborative approaches to EFN management

We have prizes for best student posters! The deadline for submission of poster abstracts is June 29th, 2018. We will notify authors of accepted poster abstracts by July 13, 2018. For more information, please visit the website, or contact Nargiz Rahimova at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Save Our Species

Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)

Submitted by OCCP volunteers Chris & Michela

Fun facts

The only known venomous snake in BC, the Western Rattle snake (AKA the Pit Viper)
  • Rattlesnake fangs are retractable! And they also can break, but no fear, they grow replacement fangs! Most times there are a pair of fangs behind the existing set
  • A rattlesnake's rattle is made of keratin. That is the same stuff as your fingernails!
  • Rattlesnakes can only sense vibrations; they can't even hear another rattle snakes rattle!
  • Baby rattlesnakes have no rattle. They only have a scale at the end of their body. Their rattles begin to develop after the first time they shed their skin! Newborn rattlesnakes are fully venomous!

A rattlesnakes life in the Okanagan

Across Canada, the Western Rattle Snake can be found in numerous areas including south-eastern Alberta, south-western Saskatchewan as well as the southern interior dry belt of the Okanagan Valley in BC.

As the only known venomous snake in BC, the Western Rattle snake is a large (adults ranging from 85-110cm in size) stout snake that is brown, olive or grey in colour with a series of large dark-brown blotches across its body. It is particularly identifiable by – you guessed it - its rattle shaped tail!

Rattlesnakes – also known as pit vipers – have a heat-sensing pit on each side of their head roughly between the nostril and the eye that are used to detect warm-blooded prey. As carnivores, they eat mammals (especially rodents) and reptiles, which they catch alive and swallow whole.

As rattlesnakes prefer dry, rocky and rugged landscapes with sparse or scattered tree cover like rocky ridges, their habitat is commonly found in Bunchgrass, Ponderosa Pine, and lower fringes of the Interior Douglas-fir zones.

Even though you may encounter a rattlesnake anywhere around cities and towns whilst hiking and biking, it is quite unlikely. Nevertheless, always take proper safety precautions such as wearing proper hiking boots to protect your feet and ankles should you accidentally step on one. If you do come across any snake, simply stop and allow it to move away, or move away from it. It doesn’t want to be bothered just as much as you don’t.

How we can help

As rattlesnakes are valuable predators and play an important role in natures ecosystem by helping control some species of small mammals, Wildlife conservation in the Okanagan is incredibly important. The Western Rattle Snake has suffered huge decline of its natural habitat in British Columbia due to land, urban and agricultural development. As a result they are now a blue-listed species protected under the British Columbia Wildlife Act. Blue-listed species are considered to be vulnerable or sensitive and the Act prohibits the capture or killing of wildlife, except for the protection of life or property.

Funding Opportunities

Vancouver Foundation Grants

Grant applications open July 3

Deadline to submit Letters of Intent for multi-year grants is July 20.
Systems Change Grants support projects that take action to address the root causes of pressing social, environmental or cultural issues by influencing the behaviours of populations, organizations, and institutions. Systems Change Grants provide funding from $20,000 to $300,000 for charities and other qualified donees with projects that take action to address the root causes of pressing social, environmental or cultural issues in BC. Participatory Action Research Grants provide funding from $20,000 to $300,000 to support research that is co-led by community members and researchers to learn more about the root causes of pressing issues impacting the health of communities. Short-term grants can be submitted at any time throughout the year, beginning July 3 a and decisions are made the following month.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Application Deadline: July 15

The Foundation supports a wide range of environmental initiatives, with a primary focus on environmental education, urban greening and enhancing biodiversity, and energy conservation.