In this issue:

It Takes a Village to Raise an Ecosystem...

Reflecting On Our Cooperation
OCCP Action Team News
Learning to Live on the Lake
Creating a Conservation Fund
Partner & Conservation News
Workshops and Conferences
Events
Save Our Species
Funding Opportunities

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

As we celebrate Canada in July, and shift into the season where we get to enjoy the outdoors, we encourage you to think about how you can improve your role in our "village", as we work together to enhance local biodiversity. OCCP works to help our partners collaborate on projects that help keep biodiversity protected and connected.

OCCP's Statement of Cooperation commits OCCP Partners in their belief that:

" ...biodiversity is a key component of Canada's national heritage.
Both Canada and British Columbia have made international and national commitments to conserve biological diversity. Canadians from all walks of life are committed to preserving this rich component of our national heritage for the enjoyment and education of future generations. Biodiversity has inherent and ecosystem services values as well as economic consequences that justify its conservation. These values must be preserved for many future generations of Canadians"

Large listing of the logos of OCCP partners

OCCP Action Team News

OCCP logoOCCP has contributed to a number of community initiatives this month that support our partners work together to help raise our future ecosystems and protect Okanagan biodiversity for future Canadians, and our migratory species.

Learning to Live on the Lake

Cover page of the 'A Resource for Lakeshore Living' guide

A Resource for Okanagan Lakeshore Living’ was recently presented to the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District Boards, and a printed summary of this resource is being mailed out to local lakeshore residents.

This resource was developed to offer practical solutions on how Okanagan residents can help to:

  • protect natural lakeshore areas
  • improve water quality
  • conserve sensitive species
  • and enhance our region's resilience to more frequent flood events expected with climate change

This outreach project was a collaborative effort between the OCCP, the South Okanagan-Similkameen Collaborative Conservation Program (SOSCP), the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), and other local governments.

A Resource for Okanagan Lakeshore Living’ promotes and encourages stewardship actions that can be taken to improve and effectively manage the Okanagan Lake shoreline while supporting flood preparedness.

This resource was developed in response to an update of the Okanagan Lake Foreshore Inventory and Mapping, which was completed in the fall of 2016, and revealed that only 41% of the shoreline of Okanagan Lake remains naturally vegetated. If the current rate of loss was maintained, the entire lakeshore would be developed within the next 1-2 generations. The pressure to develop the lakeshore has become much stronger since the subsequent spring flooding events of 2017 and 2018. Key actions and recommendations to help reverse this trend are identified in the report [PDF], including enhancing information resources for local lakeshore residents.

A Resource for Okanagan Lakeshore Living’ promotes and encourages stewardship actions that can be taken to improve and effectively manage the Okanagan Lake shoreline while supporting flood preparedness. This resource can be used by Okanagan residents, developers, Realtors, environmental professionals, governments, and other large lake communities. Funding to develop this resource was provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, RDCO, the Okanagan Basin Water Board Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grant, and the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

There are ongoing efforts across the valley for flood planning including the Regional District’s preparation of a Regional Floodplain Management Plan to better understand the risks and what can be done to reduce potential damage from flooding and prepare for future flood events in the Central Okanagan. Urban and rural development has caused significant changes to the lakefront landscape. A collaborative effort by all Okanagan residents and communities is required to help slow the loss of natural areas along the lake by enhancing and restoring natural ecosystems.

Creating a Conservation Fund

Cover of the Conservation Fund pamphletThe City of Armstrong and the Village of Lumby expressed their support in June for the North Okanagan Conservation Fund Service proposed by the Regional District. OCCP Program Manager Scott Boswell and RDNO Regional Planning Projects Manager Laura Frank presented an overview of the benefits of local conservation funds to Mayor and Council at the Village of Lumby on June 18th.

The presentation and discussion focused on:

  • the types of projects the fund could support
  • how the fund could be structured to ensure regional biodiversity projects are prioritized
  • and how the fund could be administered effectively

During the meeting, Mayor and Council voted to participate in the North Okanagan Local Conservation Fund Service proposed by the RDNO.

The City of Armstrong also voted to participate in the fund in June. The Mayor of Armstrong, Chris Pieper, stated that he feels a Conservation Fund in the North Okanagan would help enhance local creeks and wetlands. “They go through all of our communities. So, it would be good to have a regional approach to solving flooding and wetland issues.” Pieper adds that a conservation mind might be beneficial in the development of the northern rail trail, and that it would be money well spent. “I think the advantages on this investment are pretty high. It would give us access to grants and other funding.” Mayor Pieper encourages all municipalities to support it as a regional function that helps the entire North Okanagan. Read more about Local Conservation Funds.

Partner & Conservation News

Swan Lake is Now a Wildlife Management Area!

Swan Lake is a unique lake in the north Okanagan that has long been recognized for its important wetland habitat. It has recently been designated as part of a new wildlife management area (WMA) to help protect migratory birds, animals, and species at risk. The 471.5-hectare wildlife management area will help ensure locals and visitors alike can continue to enjoy a healthy environment, recreation opportunities and natural attractions.

“Located just north of Vernon, Swan Lake is an unusually shallow and marshy lake with intact shoreline and undisturbed habitat,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “We want to protect it for generations to come, because it is on a major migratory corridor for waterfowl, with over 200 bird species found in the area, as well as mammals and amphibians.” The designation will also support the development of a management plan for the area that encourages conservation and shared stewardship, engagement of local First Nations and stakeholders on conservation and management issues, additional legal tools for the ministry to consider in conservation management, and partnership opportunities for research and education.

A 3.2-hectare conservation property on the eastern shore of the lake, owned by The Nature Trust of BC and currently leased to the Province, will be included in the new wildlife management area. The wildlife management area will complement the existing Swan Lake Nature Reserve Park at the south end, which includes lands owned by the Regional District of North Okanagan and Ducks Unlimited Canada. There are walking trails, interpretive signs and a bird blind in the regional park. The wildlife management area lies within the traditional territory of both the Okanagan Nation and the Secwepemc Nation Lakes Division. The lands of the Okanagan Indian Band border the north end of Swan Lake, and the band provided support for the wildlife management area proposal. More information is available from the Government of BC.

Fish Passage at the Wilsey Dam Is One Step Closer

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) endorsed a proposal to improve fish passage at the Wilsey Dam on the Shuswap River near Vernon. The proposal was developed by the Wilsey Dam Fish Passage Committee with funding from the FWCP for environmental and technical feasibility studies. Construction of the dam in 1929 blocked the upstream passage of salmon including Chinook, Coho and Sockeye.

With endorsement of the FWCP’s Coastal Region Board, the Wilsey Dam fish passage proposal moves to step six in BC Hydro’s seven-step fish passage decision framework [PDF] where further analysis and an assessment of the environmental, financial and technical elements of the proposal, as well as the social benefits, will be conducted. If the results of this step are positive, BC Hydro’s board of directors will review the proposal for acceptance.

New Invasive Species Website

Okanagan farmers, viticulturists, orchardists and ranchers have a new tool available to help manage invasive species. This digital ‘one stop shop’ features resources to assist producers in identifying invasive species, as well as management options and contact information for local experts. The Okanagan Invasive Species Online website was officially launched at the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society’s AGM on June 13th in Penticton, BC.

Invasive plant and insect species create challenges for producers by interfering with cropping systems and creating health hazards for livestock. Freshwater invaders such as Zebra and Quagga Mussels, although not yet present in BC, can threaten irrigation infrastructure. While a range of human activities make management of invasive species an ongoing issue, climate change will further alter the dynamics of invasive and native species adding to management complexity and costs for producers.

“I think most of us do appreciate that the climate is changing,” says Keith Manders, an Okanagan rancher and member of the project oversight committee. He points to the frequency of extreme weather events like flooding, drought and fire over the past few years as examples. “I think these weather extremes are going to promote the growth of, and allow for the introduction of, species that we have not seen as the new conditions will provide the invaders with a welcoming environment,” he says. “This tool puts all the information on local invasive species in one place that is easy and quick to access with our phones or computer.”

“I think these weather extremes are going to promote the growth of, and allow for the introduction of, species that we have not seen as the new conditions will provide the invaders with a welcoming environment,” he says. “This tool puts all the information on local invasive species in one place that is easy and quick to access with our phones or computer.”

— Keith Manders, Okanagan rancher and member of the project oversight committee

Invasive species in the Okanagan are monitored and managed on a sub-regional basis by the three Okanagan Regional Districts, along with non-profit organizations such as the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS). This is the first time the Okanagan Valley will have a centralized system to share information pertaining to invasive species identification and management, and it is now available to producers and the public at www.oiso.ca. The project was led by the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), with federal and provincial government funding delivered through the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative.

"Invasive species do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries so it made sense to collaborate with all three regional districts to unify our programs," states Lisa Scott, Executive Director with OASISS. "This new website is an exciting and unique tool that will help Okanagan producers get the information they need in a much more efficient way."

The site is designed for the agriculture sector, and allows producers to search by commodity, or by regional district to find species of concern. It 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. The project was identified as a priority action under the Okanagan Regional Adaptation Strategies released by the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative (CAI) in 2016, and funded as part of the $300,000 investment to implement the strategy by the governments of Canada and British Columbia. The BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative was established by the BC Agriculture Council in 2008 and is led by an advisory committee of agricultural producers, food processors and representatives from various government agencies. The Initiative has been supported by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC with funding provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia.

A Call for Expressions of Interest for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative

In municipalities across Canada, infrastructure is aging, capital and operating costs are rising, and service delivery is strained by growing populations and shifting conditions. Solutions may be all around us: there is growing evidence that natural assets provide, or could be restored to provide, services just like engineered assets, often at lower costs. However, most local governments lack policies and methods to measure services provided by natural assets or the risks to services if the natural assets become degraded.

The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) offers a methodology and support for local governments to integrate natural assets into core asset management and financial processes using the same systems as for engineered assets. MNAI is now offering a watershed-level program in BC focussed on the needs and capacities of local governments.This notice is to solicit non-binding expressions of interest from approximately 7 smaller/rural local governments to host collectively one single Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) project located in a single watershed (or connected/ neighboring subwatersheds).

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is August 17, 2018. Click here for more information and to read the Request for Expressions of Interest.

Learn More About Burrowing Owls

The Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC is an environmental organization working to restore self sustaining populations of these tiny ground dwelling birds of prey to the southern interior grasslands of BC. Burrowing Owls are listed as a species at risk in Canada. The society has a new website, and they encourage people to check it out!  They also post photos and information on their new Instagram account, and Facebook account.

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.

Bee Ambassadors Abound!

Satellite image of portion of Okanagan Lake showing locations of many bee ambassadorsBorder Free Bees have more than reached their Bee Ambassador goals! They have nearly 250 Bee Ambassadors registered (from Kelowna and beyond!) and we have had to shut down registration. This is such a great program. Thank you to Kelowna Museums for helping deliver packages. Keep your eyes out for ways to find mechanisms for this program to continue. BA’s, please —send us your signed garden photos!

To celebrate our Bee Ambassadors Program, XEN (Xeriscape Endemic Nursery & Ecological Solutions) is offering a 20% discount on bee friendly plants, open to all our network. Go to their website and get the details.

Friends of the Earth is also inviting all bee friends to help count our fuzzy pollinators, and submit tallies on the website for the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count.

Workshops & Conferences

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, BC

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.

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.

Events

‘Nature Smarts – Okanagan Edition’ Exhibit at the EECO

Before you go out for a walk in your favourite regional park, take a few minutes to gather some important items. Water, additional clothing in case the weather changes, a first aid kit and your mobile device. How about some sunscreen and bug juice? Outdoor knowledge and safety are important considerations when visiting any park or forested area.

Our ‘Nature Smarts – Okanagan Edition’exhibit can help you with tips to be better prepared for your next outing! Check it out at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin Roads.

The EECO is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

‘Summer Nature Camps’

If you want your kids to have fun making friends and learning about nature, sign them up for the Summer Nature Camps! The camps use Mission Creek Regional Park as a backdrop for fun, active indoor and outdoor activities with a focus on environmental education to foster an appreciation for our natural environment. This popular half-day morning summer program for youngsters returns during July and August with camps for preschoolers, kids aged 5-7, and 6-8.

For more information on these and other EECO programs, check out ‘Your Guide to Regional Parks’ [PDF], visit the Regional District website (regionaldistrict.com/parksevents) or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

Registration is now open to the 2018 ABNC Summer Camps!

Engage in hands-on natural learning with Allan Brooks Nature Centre Summer Camps! Our weekly camp themes offer hands on nature experiences in a fun learning environment. Each session is customized for the age group indicated. Half Day Camps run from 9AM to noon, Full Day Camps run from 9AM to 3PM. Be sure to purchase your ABNC Family Membership to receive great discounts on all programs and events throughout the year!

Family Fun Nights 2018

Tuesdays in July are Family Fun Nights at Allan Brooks Nature Centre! Bring the family and get closer to nature at one of the most beautiful view points in the Okanagan! Admission is by donation. Family Fun Nights run from 6pm-8pm – remember to dress for the weather.

July 10 - Reptile Night

Stuart Brown and The Bug Guys return to Allan Brooks to present local snake species and other reptiles in the area and discuss identification, their habits, habitat and what to do should you encounter one. With real snakes and other reptiles! Interested in creepy and crawly things for his entire life Stuart Brown grew up on the BC coast. A passion first for frogs and salamanders grew as his father took him out to look for critters as a child. What initially started with a large insect collection has now expanded into a large and impressive live reptile collection. Stuart is completely self taught, using nature documentaries, books and experiences in the field.

July 17 - Allan Brooks Carnival

Join us for the first ever Allan Brooks Carnival! From bouncy castles, to rock walls to bobbing for apples, this is a Carnival the whole family can enjoy! Walk the ground of Allan Brooks and check out all the games to win prizes! Plus enjoy the entertainment with the Raptor Stilt Chorus and more!

July 24 - Amazing Wild Survivor 2.0

The Amazing race, meets Man vs Wild meets Survivor! Join us for the 2nd annual Race around Allan Brooks Nature Centre! Bring the family and work as a team to make it through the wild grounds of Allan Brooks Nature Centre! There are prizes to be won, plus tons of fun for the whole family! Wear comfortable shoes as there's lots of walking and running involved!

July 31 - Allan Brooks Safari Adventure

Join us for our last family fun night of 2018! Wear your khakis, bring your binoculars and join us on an Allan Brooks Safari! Tour the Grassland Trail and see the “Big 5” of our ecosystem! Learn the basics of wildlife photography and then sit back and relax with the family at the Grassland Canopy!

Pollinator Picnic

Pollinator Picnic flier with event details and descriptionThe public is invited to bring a lunch and a blanket to the Brent’s Grist Mill Heritage Park on Saturday July 14th for a Pollinator Picnic! Drop in between 11:00 am – 1:30 PM and enjoy live music, family fun and entertainment, and pick up a package of bee-friendly seeds for planting this fall in your garden!

The Pollinator Picnic celebrates Kelowna’s over 350 Bee Ambassadors! Over the past few months, 250 Kelowna residents have signed up to plant bee-friendly gardens all over the city, joining the over 100 Ambassadors on the Kelowna Nectar Trail from last year. These amazing citizens, gardeners and bee lovers are leading the way to preserving pollinator habitat and conserving our essential insects. We invite them to attend, to meet each other and to be celebrated at a fun, casual event at Kelowna’s Public Art Pollinator Pasture! And we invite all of Kelowna to come meet them!

You can enjoy learning about pollinators, soak up some sun and music, play games and make art! We’ll have some festive circus type tents to accompany our wonderful circus game instructor. We’ll have some nice artistic décor for people’s picnic blankets (little floral bouquets) and terrific, quirky, lyrical music by Leila Neverland. We’ll have a “Ground Bees Live Here” spoon painting station for kids to learn about ground nesting bees. Also, if you want to help out the Pollinator Pasture, we welcome donations of 750 ml yogurt containers for helping us grow native plants.

Brent’s Grist Mill park is located at 2136 Leckie Pl, Kelowna. People with mobility issues will be able to park on site. We ask others to park along Leckie and walk the short block to the park.

The Bee Ambassadors program is sponsored by a Go Wild Community Grant through the World Wildlife Fund and Border Free Bees, a research project at UBC and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Save Our Species

American Badger (jeffersonii subspecies)

Submitted by OCCP volunteers Chris & Michela

The young are born March to early April, which means that from June to July they will begin to leave their dens and venture up to 100km from their birth site. Watch out for the baby badgers! This subspecies of American Badger can be found anywhere between the western North America from California west to central Colorado. In Canada, the western population of the jeffersonii subspecies of American Badger can only be found in the dry interior of southern British Columbia.

It’s not hard to spot these badgers with their yellowish-grey back and a clear white stripe that runs from the nose over the top of the head to the shoulders. It has a heavy-body, short-legs and tail, but don’t let that fool you… As a typical member of the weasel family, they are known for being fierce fighters when cornered or attacked! They are armed with extremely long claws for digging their burrows in which they reside, while the claws on the hind feet are short and flattened for scooping away soil. Badgers dens are complex; used to raise young, to rest, for predation and perusing prey. We know they require friable soil suitable to burrow in and support small burrowing mammal prey species.

They require open habitats, whether they are natural (deserts, grasslands, forest clearings, alpine areas) or man-made (agricultural fields, road right-of-ways, golf courses). Suitable habitat in British Columbia is limited and fragmented due to urbanization and intense agriculture (especially orchards around the Okanagan). As nocturnal carnivores in BC, badgers are known to have eaten Columbian Ground Squirrels, Boreal Red-backed Voles, Northern Pocket Gophers, Common Loons, sparrows, racer snakes, salmon and beetles. Despite having few natural predators in southern British Columbia (except bears and cougars), badgers suffer from fairly high mortality rates - especially as a result of farming operations and collisions with vehicles on roads.

How we can help

There is currently a national Recovery Strategy for the American Badger (jeffersonii subspecies). The jeffersonii Badger Recovery Team aims to ensure a self-sustaining population of badgers throughout their historic range in BC. Concrete road barriers increase highway mortality by trapping badgers on the roadway. Replacing these with barriers with ones that have openings in the bottom allow badgers to exit the highway. Implementing underpasses/Culverts on roadways help a number of other species’ movements too!

Badgers have also been persecuted by landowners due to concern that livestock will injure themselves by stepping in a burrow. However, animal surveys found almost no incidents livestock injury attributable to badger burrows. These surveys show landowners how low the risk of injury is and hopefully they will be encouraged to welcome our furry friends onto their property!

Join in the Fun

We can support recovery of badgers and other species at risk through stewardship activities such as maintaining green space corridors on our properties. It’s important to take care when driving (particularly at night) and spread the word about badger friendly road barriers! A badger translocation protocol has been developed for badgers at risk (e.g. too close to a busy
highway or on private property with disproving landowners). Landowners can call a hotline and a recovery team member will determine the most appropriate course of action. In most cases, the badger is left alone and will leave within a couple of days. Recovery of the badger depends on the goodwill of landowners and public outreach; this is a vital component of the recovery program. Presentations, newspaper articles, radio interviews, landowner contact and toll-free phone numbers are all important components of the outreach program.

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.

Real Estate Foundation of BC General Grants

Application Deadline: September 6

The REFBC General Grants can fund projects in all five of REFBC's interest areas (sustainable land use, built environment sustainability, freshwater sustainability, and local and sustainable food systems, professional excellence in real estate.) The Foundation has two intakes per year. Applications are open to any non-profit organization doing work related to land use and/or real estate in B.C.