In this issue:

A Look Back to the Future

RDCO historic air photos: Kelowna in 1959 on the left; 2014 Kelowna on the right

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

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

OCCP logoAs we prepare for the end of 2017, we invite you look at the events of this past year, and consider how we can work together to improve environmental protection next year.  Our work aims to help monitor and share information about historical environmental impacts to help local landowners and governments make informed decisions about how to best plan to keep our ecosystems healthy in our future.

OCCP's Statement of Cooperation  commits OCCP Partners in their combined conservation vision:

" … the future of the Okanagan natural system is threatened.
We cannot take the future health of the Okanagan natural system for granted. The area’s economic wealth has long been based on its abundant natural resources. Today, however, population growth and associated human activities threaten the natural environment that has made it so special and attractive. Climate change, and its effects such as Beetle infestations, are having an impact the Okanagan environment. Several species residing in the Okanagan are listed as nationally threatened, endangered or vulnerable*, and Okanagan Chinook Salmon and Okanagan Sockeye Salmon have COSEWIC status. Over a third of all provincially red-listed species are found in the Okanagan.

* Confirmed - Long-billed curlews, flammulated owls, skinks, gopher snakes, painted turtles, grasshopper sparrows, swainson’s hawks, rattlesnakes, screech-owls, spadefoots, badgers, grizzly bears, racers, short-eared owls, rubber boas, spotted bats, townsend's big-eared bats, western toads, and Lewis's woodpeckers."

Large listing of the logos of OCCP partners

OCCP Action Team News

OCCP has contributed to a number of initiatives this month that improve information for all Okanagan residents on our past environmental impacts, and encourage them to plan to "Keep Nature In Our Future".

OCCP 2016-2017 Annual Report

An excavator clearing land
OCCP has released its 2016-2017 Annual Report

OCCP is pleased to announce the release of the 2016-2017 Annual ReportIt has been another exciting year for OCCP, with 16 major projects underway or completed. The projects are diverse and include education, restoration, and planning initiatives to protect ecosystems around our large lakes, sensitive ecosystems mapping, developing strategies for protecting ecological corridors, and best practices in environmental planning.

Drafting the annual report provides us with a great opportunity to reflect back on our achievements from this year, and look to the future to plan our actions over the coming year. We hope this report inspires you to look back to the future of environmental protection too.

OCCP on the Road: Presentations & Workshops

Over the past month OCCP has been travelling across the North and Central Okanagan communicating about the importance of our local biodiversity, and how Okanagan residents can use existing information to inform plans for the future, and keep our natural areas protected and connected.

Sustainability 100 class at UBC Okanagan

Tanis presenting the Sustainability 100 class to 90 students at UBC Okanagan

Tanis started off the month by presenting to 90 students in the Sustainability 100 class at UBC Okanagan about the unique ecology of the Okanagan valley, and discuss conservation challenges and opportunities we face here.

Presentations to the RDCO BoD, OWSC & City of Vernon

On November 9th, Scott presented to the Regional District of Central Okanagan Board of Directors to outline how OCCP and partners are addressing a key recommendation from the 2016 Foreshore Inventory and Mapping report. The report identified the need for enhanced education for Okanagan residents about development on the lake, and share information about regulations and best practices for living by the lake. OCCP have been working with RDCO in drafting an outline of the resource materials, and have begun seeking collaborations for this project.

Scott also presented in November to the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council and the City of Vernon about OCCP's projects, and opportunities for collaboration.

"Conserving Okanagan Wetlands: Local Government and Provincial Tools" Workshop

OCCP was also pleased to help plan and facilitate the "Conserving Okanagan Wetlands: Local Government and Provincial Tools" workshop hosted by the Ecosystems Section of the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in partnership with the Okanagan Basin Water Board and Ducks Unlimited Canada and with the support of the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, the BC Wildlife Federation, and the Planning Institute of BC.

OCCP helped plan and facilitate the "Conserving Okanagan Wetlands: Local Government and Provincial Tools" workshop

The workshop was attended by over 50 local government staff and environmental professionals, and was intended to provide an update on recent wetland conservation initiatives in the Okanagan, highlight the role of the provincial Water Sustainability Act, share best practices for local government tools, and allow participants to identify opportunities to improve wetland conservation outcomes in the Okanagan. OCCP is preparing a summary report of the presentations and discussions for the Province and workshop participants that will be available on the Ecological Reports Catalogue [EcoCat] in the New Year.

Connecting the Backbone: Conservation Learning and Planning Workshop

In mid-November, OCCP also represented the North and Central Okanagan at the "Connecting the Backbone: Conservation Learning and Planning Workshop" hosted by Conservation Northwest in Tonasket, Washington.  This workshop was the third in a series, and brought together 10 organizations from BC and Washington to discuss strategies and current work for protecting and connecting key wildlife habitat along the "backbone" of the international wildlife corridor that runs through Washington and the Okanagan.

The workshop brought together participants from the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP), the En'owkin Centre, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network, and ecologist Don Gayton were present from Canada, and from the US there were representatives from Conservation Northwest, US Fish and Wildlife, the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, Okanogan Conservation District, and the Okanogan Land Trust.  All of the groups presented about connectivity initiatives in their region, and identified locations of interest and barriers for animal movement.

Part of the research presented at the workshop from the Arid Lands Initiative in Washington, showing habitat networks for 11 focal species selected to represent the connectivity needs of a large number of wildlife

The map pictured was part of the research presented at the workshop from the Arid Lands Initiative in Washington, and shows habitat networks for 11 focal species that were selected to represent the connectivity needs of a large number of wildlife. Habitat linkage networks were calculated from information about habitat quality, and the resistance animals face in crossing the landscape (e.g. areas with lots of houses and roads are harder to cross). The focal species included two species of grouse, tiger salamanders, mule deer, beaver, two species of ground squirrel, a toad, a chipmunk, the Western rattlesnake, and two species of jackrabbit.

It is clear from the mapping presented that low elevation areas near water in the Okanagan Valley are of great value to a large number of the focal species.  The same areas are highly valued by people. However, when people change the landscape too much, it becomes less valuable for all types of wildlife, and very difficult for them to move around to find food, shelter, and mates.  All of the initiatives presented at the meeting aim to identify and protect key habitat and connections to conserve whole, functioning ecosystems, not just the focal species.

Everyone along the connected backbone has a part to play in keeping nature protected and connected. The workshop participants have pledged each do their part locally, and continue to share information and coordinate with neighbouring regions on connectivity planning for the future.

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Support governments in expanding protection of natural areas and ecological corridors in policies and bylaws
  • Share your appreciation and knowledge of our natural assets with your friends and neighbours
  • Plant native species and maximize greenspaces
  • Start a Nectar Trail through your neighbourhood
  • Consult environmental mapping and consider connectivity when making land use decisions
  • Sign up for the OCCP newsletter (see bottom of this page) and the OCCP Facebook page
  • Volunteer with Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship

PechaKucha Night in Vernon

The Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) hosted a PechaKucha Night in Vernon in late November, where presenters from local organizations, including OCCP, shared about their work, using 20 slides, and only 20 seconds per slide! This style of presentation is very challenging, and it was very interesting to see the different approaches presenters took to convey their main messages in just over 6 minutes to the audience. The event hosted presenters from the Food Action Society, the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA), North Okanagan Organic Association, Allan Brooks Nature Centre, North Okanagan Naturalists Club, Friends of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation, SENS, OCCP, and Purppl.

Partner & Conservation News

Conservation Funds Guide Released

The second edition of "Local Conservation Funds in British Columbia: A Guide for Local Governments and Community Organizations" is now available

The second edition of Local Conservation Funds in British Columbia: A Guide for Local Governments and Community Organizations is now available online from the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) website.  This resource is an essential “how-to” guide for local governments and community groups interested in establishing dedicated funds for local community sustainability and environmental conservation projects. In addition to the guide itself, visitors to the website can find current case studies, and links to additional helpful resources.

 

Birding For Beginners Workshops a Success!

An excavator clearing land
Birding for Beginners workshop led by local birder Matthias Bieber. Photo by Lia McKinnon.

In November, OSSS organized Birding for Beginners workshops throughout the South and Central Okanagan. Local birder Matthias Bieber explained the basic steps for bird identification, as well as how to use a guidebook and how to properly feed birds with backyard feeders. 40 participants went on guided bird walks afterwards to put their new skills to the test. They identified Northern Flickers, Trumpeter Swans, and Belted Kingfishers, among others. If you are interested in learning how to get your start in birding, watch for more Beginner Birding workshops from OSSS in the spring!

Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Protection

Help ensure the highest professional, technical and ethical standards are being applied to resource development in British Columbia. The provincial government is reviewing the professional reliance model, and feedback from the public is sought to help shape how forests, minerals, metals, petroleum, fish and other natural resources are managed.

The provincial review will make recommendations on:

  • Whether professional associations that oversee qualified professionals (QPs) employ best practices to protect the public interest
  • Whether government oversight of professional associations is adequate
  • Conditions governing the involvement of QPs in government's resource management decisions and the appropriate level of government oversight to assure the public their interests are protected

Recommendations from the feedback process will be part of a final report for review. The review will be completed in spring 2018 and released to the public. Submit your feedback by January 19, 2018 at 4:00 p.m here.

Comment on Species At Risk

On December 16, 2017 a proposal to amend Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for 13 terrestrial species was published in part I of the Canada Gazette. This marks the beginning of a 30-day public comment period during which you can share your comments on the proposal either by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 1-800-668-6767. The public comment period will end on January 18, 2018.

The proposed amendments would change Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of SARA by adding certain species, by changing some species’ statuses (e.g. from “Endangered” to “Threatened”), and by changing the way some species are divided on the list. For species found in British Columbia, this includes the addition of:

  • Grizzly Bear, Western population (Special Concern)
  • Wolverine (Special Concern)
  • Audouin’s Night-stalking Tiger Beetle (Threatened)
  • Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Endangered)
  • Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (Special Concern)
  • Roell's Brotherella Moss (Endangered)

The proposal also includes changing the status of Barn Owl, Western population from Special Concern to Threatened, dividing the American Badger jeffersonii subspecies into Eastern and Western Populations, and dividing the Western Toad into “calling” and “non-calling” populations.

Please also note that on November 15, 2017 an order to amend Schedule 1 of SARA was published in part 2 of the Canada Gazette. This order follows the proposal published in part I of the Canada Gazette and the associated comment period which ended on  April 10, 2017. Among other amendments, this order added 4 bird species found in British Columbia to Schedule 1 of SARA:

  • Bank Swallow (Threatened)
  • Barn Swallow (Threatened)
  • Bobolink (Threatened)
  • Western Grebe (Special Concern)

All species in this order are migratory birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA). The MBCA and its regulations protect migratory birds, their nests and eggs against possessing, buying, selling, exchanging, giving or making it the subject of a commercial transaction, wherever they are found in Canada. These protections remain in effect when a migratory bird is listed in Schedule 1 of SARA. Notifications regarding additional potential changes to SARA can be expected early in 2018.

Further information regarding SARA and species at risk is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry, including an explanation of the listing process. For general inquiries please do not hesitate to contact our regional office in British Columbia via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Supporting Our Species - SOS

Supporting the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park

The discussion over the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park has been renewed with a tri-lateral announcement of support last month, and a petition of support has been put before Parliament:

  • e-1390 (Protection of the environment), 42nd Parliament
  • Initiated by Doreen Olson from Kaleden, British Columbia, on November 30, 2017, at 11:37 a.m. (EDT)
  • Sponsored by Richard Cannings, South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP
  • The Petition is open for signature until March 30, 2018, at 11:37 a.m. (EDT)

For more information, and to sign the petition to support the park visit the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park website.

Events

SENS-sationally Sustainable

‘Solar John’ Night: January 25th, 7pm, 2018

SENS director John Barling provides lots of solar ‘you can build’ ideas and plans this evening. All are welcome!

Pollinator Pathways:

The Border Free Bees research project in Kelowna helped set up a 7.4 km nectar trail for 2017. Want to get involved in this for the Vernon area? Contact Sheila Campbell, SENS director. She is coordinating a local Pollinator Pathways initiative for the Vernon area.

'Wild Animal Olympics' at the EECO Centre

Wild Animal Olympics logoWild animals are natural athletes, well adapted to their environment for survival. Some run fast. Others swim long distances or soar to great heights.  Animals achieve their place on the podium by chasing their prey or finding safe nesting places to raise their young.

Learn about these amazing accomplishments at the ‘Wild Animal Olympics’ exhibit in the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin Roads. The exhibit runs from November 3rd until April.

The Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan or EECO is open from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday.  For more information on this and other EECO programs, check out ‘Your Guide to Regional Parks’, visit the Regional District website (regionaldistrict.com/parksevents) or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

Funding Opportunities

Baillie Memorial Fund for Bird Research and Preservation

Small Grants Application Deadline: January 15 
Student Research Award Deadline: February 15

The Baillie Memorial Fund for Bird Research and Preservation provides grants for projects that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Application Deadline: January 15th 2018

The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation supports a wide range of environmental initiatives, with a primary focus on environmental education and green space programs.

Telus Community Board Grants

Application Deadline:  January 27

Thompson-Okanagan Community Board members choose programs that focus on youth, demonstrate social or technological innovation in program delivery, and involve arts & culture, education & sport, or health & well-being in our environment. More info on Telus Community Board Grants.

Brink/McLean Grassland Conservation Fund

Application Deadline: February 9, 4:30 pm.

The Brink/McLean Grassland Conservation Fund was established by The Nature Trust of BC. Up to $2500 is available to help gain a better understanding of grassland management.

Applicants should contact Leanna Warman at 604-969-3246 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss their project and its eligibility for funding support.

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation: Get Outdoors (GO) Grant

Deadline: February 15th (for field trips between Apr 1 – Jun 30)

BC educators and schools are invited to apply for a Get Outdoors (GO) Grant. These grants provide funding for activities that connect K-12 students with the outdoors and support hands-on learning experiences about the environment. GO Grants have helped over 20,000 students to get outdoors since the program began in 2012.

Water Conservation and Quality Improvement (WCQI) Grant

Application Deadline: February 16

Water Conservation and Quality Improvement (WCQI) Grant program is a component of the Water Management Initiative of the OBWB. The grant funds projects that focus on drought planning, groundwater studies and water flow monitoring to assist water managers to better understand the state of our water supplies and adapt to extreme events like floods and droughts.

Real Estate Foundation General Grants

Application Deadline: February 28, 2018 (decisions in June 2018 and September 2018)

REFBC funds projects that support the sustainable use of land and that build knowledge and professionalism in the real estate industry, and the Real Estate Foundation General Grants are open to any non-profit working on land use projects in BC.

Habitat Stewardship Program

Application Deadline: February 28, 2018 (decisions in June 2018 and September 2018)

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."

Employment and Volunteer Opportunities

Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCC)

Grasslands Conservation Council of BC (GCC) logo

GCC Seeks Administration and Communications Coordinator
The Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCC) is seeking a half-time administrative and communications contractor to provide "behind-the-scenes" administrative support as well as leadership in facilitating select GCC communication activities. GCC was founded in 1999 by various groups and individuals concerned with threats to the grasslands of British Columbia and is dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of these imperilled grasslands throughout the Province. More information here.