A panoramic view of the Okanagan Valley with West Kelowna in the foreground and mountains in the background

Message from the Coordinator

OCCP slogan: Keeping Nature in Our Future
Message from the Projects Coordinator
OCCP Action Team News
Partner & Conservation News
Conferences & Workshops
Funding Opportunities
Volunteer Opportunities

Message from the Program Manager

Scott Boswell, OCCP Program ManagerWith the new year underway we look forward to engaging with our partners on collaborative projects to implement the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. This year is very exciting as the OCCP has an increased capacity to support the partnership with two full time employees. This strong foundation was made possible by the actions of the steering committee of Rob Miles, Margaret Bakelaar, Alyson Skinner, Aaron Deans, Laura Frank, Carolina Restrepo-Tamayo, and by our past project coordinator Carol Luttmer.

2016 is quickly shaping up to be a great year for biodiversity conservation with the projects proposed through the partnership. Over the next few weeks we will be reaching out to all the partners to identify additional projects and innovative ways to conserve the region's natural areas and biodiversity.

We look forward to the opportunity to meet with everyone, and to a successful 2016!

Scott Boswell MEDes
occp123 at gmail.com

Message from the Projects Coordinator

Tanis Gieselman, OCCP Projects CoordinatorI am looking forward to working with all of you, the OCCP partners and associates, to facilitate action for a sustainable and biodiverse Okanagan. We will both be working to make connections between our partners to maximize resources for conservation through collaboration.

As Scott and I have been working together over the past six weeks, we have discussed what motivates us to work in conservation. He was inspired as a tree planter to take an interest in more sustainable resource management practices, and I was inspired by growing up in the quickly developing central Okanagan landscape with literary characters who were botanists and medicine women.

We are curious to discover what motivates each of you to be involved with conservation, and how we can make our interests work together to make change. My role with the OCCP will include communications. If you have something to share for the newsletter, or on our Facebook page, please send me your story.

Tanis Gieselman, MSc.
occp333 at gmail.com

OCCP Action Team News

Year of Soils Exhibit Opening

Okanagan Science Centre

On Saturday, Jan.16th over 30 people braved a huge winter snowstorm to have some serious family fun exploring the mysterious world of soils at the Okanagan Science Centre. The Science Centre led a family program exploring the microscopic world of soils, and the Allan Brooks Nature Trailer was also on-site with some hands-on fun looking at burrowing animals that make their homes out of soil.

This event was a special celebration of the opening of the Year of Soils Exhibit, which was inspired by the UN International Year of Soils in 2015. The purpose of this exhibit is to encourage interest in the living world beneath our feet, and the importance of soil. This exhibit includes an giant art installation about soil organisms that is now on display in the Science Centre, and will remain on exhibit throughout the spring.

It was made possible by the generous support of the OCCP, the Okanagan Science Centre, the Regional District of North Okanagan, the Real Estate Foundation of BC, The National Conservation Plan, Environment Canada, Buffy Baumbrough, Gale Woodhouse, and Patricia Doyle.

A new hydrometric monitoring station installed on Cherry Creek

Cherry Ridge Management Committee

Rob Wagner from Ecoscape conducting Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping on Cherry Creek to support the Cherry Creek Watershed Study.

Claude Labine’s donated robotic hydrometric gauge was successfully installed on Dec 7, 2015. It will enable Cherryville’s Water Stewards to monitor real-time volume measurements in Cherry Creek throughout the annual cycle. The sample site was selected by Hydrologist Dr. Natasha Neumann of UBCO, and is part of a larger Watershed Study sponsored by WVPRAC Community Works (Federal Gas Tax) and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (thanks to funding from Environment Canada, the National Conservation Plan and the Real Estate Foundation of BC).

Dr. Neumann, along with Ecoscape’s Rob Wagner, and CRMC technologist Natalie Ford have also recently completed the fieldwork for a Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) of Cherry Creek. The OCCP supported the SHIM, which helped identify priority areas for mitigation and restoration from the confluence with the Shuswap River up to Currie Creek. Kyle Hawes from Ecoscape will now work towards implementing bank stabilization measures along Cherry Creek.

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

RDCO Regional Parks

The exhibit "How Do We Get From Here to There" is now at the EECO Centre in Kelowna.

Our new gallery exhibit inside the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO) focuses on connections between animals and their environment. How Do We Get From Here to There? Traveling the Green Highway promotes the importance of preserving habitat corridors in our environment. Come follow the lives of a badger, a bighorn sheep, a spade-foot and a gopher snake through the seasons!

The EECO is the second stop for the OCCP public education exhibit on “Keeping Nature in Our Future, A Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the Okanagan Region” about how communities can protect habitat for the benefit of local residents as well as wildlife. The exhibit is funded by Environment Canada's EcoAction Program, TELUS, Okanagan Basin Water Board and Vancouver Foundation with in-kind support from several education centres.

The EECO is located in Mission Creek Regional Park(Springfield and Durnin Roads), and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. For more information visit the Regional District website or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140, email eeco at cord.bc.ca or drop into the Centre.

Bring nature to the classroom!

Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society

The outside of the Nature Trailer draws people in to discover the wonders of local biodiversity.

The Allan Brooks Nature Trailer is now available for school bookings through March 2016! The trailer`s current educational theme is Grassland Habitat Connectivity, which looks at how grassland animals survive and find resources in grassland ecosystems. The hands-on activities provide an interactive way for all-ages to learn about wildlife corridors, and how everyday choices and chance both influence local biodiversity, and our own water supply. Learning about Keeping Nature in Our Future extends the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program and OCCP partners.

The new trailer has already been hosted at numerous events, from Armstrong all the way to Penticton. Over 16 organizations provided either funding or in-kind support for the Nature Trailer. Coordinated in partnership with the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, the Okanagan-Similkameen Stewardship Society and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre, the Nature Trailer is currently receiving funding from Environment Canada`s EcoAction Community Grant program, Telus, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Honda Canada Foundation, among others.

If you would like to book the trailer, or would like more info please see: www.abnc.ca or send an email to: education at abnc.ca.

Habitat Improvement at Bald Range

OCCP Projects Coordinator, Tanis Gieselman, lending some muscle to the clean-up efforts; A herd of mountain sheep licking road salt on Westside Road

A hardworking group of eight people met December 20th to do some heavy lifting for a grassland improvement project up in the Lambly (Bear) Creek watershed. Volunteers came together from three BC Wildlife Federation Clubs (Peachland Sportsmen’s Association, Oceola Fish and Game Club, and the Kelowna Fish and Game Club), the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club, and the OCCP.

The goal was to clear away a large number of dead ponderosa pine trees that had blow-down, to help reduce the risk of wildfire and open up the area for the grasses to grow back. The grassland is being improved to provide higher quality feeding habitat for large ungulates like these bighorn sheep, who were spotted along Westside Road on the way back from the work party.

It is hoped that this grassland improvement site will become part of a larger network of habitat corridors that facilitate wildlife migration and support ecosystem connectivity.

Partner & Conservation News

Mission Creek Restoration Well Underway

Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI)

City of Kelowna crews removed vegetation from the new dike alignment, and fill from the old dike.

Phase 1 of the Mission Creek restoration between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive has begun. The primary goals are to expand the floodplain by setting back a 500-meter section of dike on the south side of the creek, and create four meanders and pools along the south side of the main channel. This will quadruple available riparian wildlife habitat area, re-establish floodplain function, and increase the amount and quality of rearing habitat for kokanee and rainbow trout.

The team will remove vegetation along the new dike alignment, strip topsoil and lay the new dike foundation, scalp the old dike down to about 40 cm above the current Mission Creek channel elevation, construct a new dike using materials from the old dike, and plant vegetation throughout the newly expanded floodplain using salvaged trees, plants, and nursery stock. This work is scheduled to be completed by April 2016. Between July 22nd and August 24th the team will also excavate four meander notches and associated pools along the south side of Mission Creek, within the setback dike project area. This will provide seasonal flow and fish access to an existing natural side channel that was separated from Mission Creek when the original dike was built.

For more information, please visit the MCRI website. Watch for our video!

New trail construction at Munson Pond

Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT)

Construction has begun on an elevated walkway in the southeast corner of the pond park trail at Munson Pond. This walkway will allow visitor access without interrupting the passage of the resident animals between the cottonwood forest area and the pond itself. The decking on a new footbridge was also recently completed on this site. Visit the COLT website and Facebook page for more information.

The Public Art Pollinator Pasture

Pollinating flowerThe Public Art Pollinator Pasture is a project of UBC and the City of Kelowna. The project will transform an underutilized site (The Brent’s Grist Mill park) into a drought-tolerant, pollinator meadow. The goal is to entice the riparian plants currently growing along the creek into the pasture and to plant native and drought-resistant non-native flowering plants to create an ecologically functioning zone for native pollinators (primarily bees and butterflies.)

The site will also become a venue for workshops, presentations, and research. Public engagement strategies such as eco-art activities (insect hotels, pollinator kits, water catchers), creative signage and interactive digital media, will connect the community with lessons on alternative land use, on water-wise techniques, and on supporting pollinator health and diversity. By the end of the project’s first three-year term (2015-18), our goal is to promote the site as an example of how successful cross-sector collaboration can re-develop and re-imagine neglected urban areas while still enhancing a neighbourhood’s ecological integrity and water- and pollinator- friendly potential.

An Opportunity to Inform Climate Policy

Okanagan sunsetOver the next 60 days, the B.C. government is seeking public input into a Climate Leadership Plan. The Province is considering the 32 recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team, a government-assembled group of experts.

The Sierra Club BC is encouraging British Columbians to read more about the recommendations on climate action in B.C. and seize this opportunity to weigh in on how B.C. should reduce emissions. You can submit your feedback online until March 25, 2016. A final Climate Leadership Plan will be unveiled in Spring, 2016.

The Land Conservancy logo

Seeking input and partnerships

The Land Conservancy (TLC)

TLC is undergoing restructuring and is looking for partnerships to manage covenants. This organization was involved in projects all over the Province, and they are attempting to re-establish contact in regions where they once had a presence, to determine how and in what form TLC should restructures itself. To assist in the planning process TLC is circulating a one-page questionnaire about covenants and how TLC can assist other conservation organizations in the most efficient way possible. Please contact the TLC to take part in this survey or discuss partnerships.

A Conservation Fund for the South Okanagan

South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Plan logoSouth Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP)

SOSCP is looking for feedback about a proposed Conservation Fund Please visit the SOSCP Conservation Fund webpage to learn more about what is being proposed, and provide your comments.

Conferences & Workshops

Groundwater at Risk of Containing Pathogens

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC)

Upcoming APEGBC seminar (February 18, 2016): Groundwater at risk of containing pathogens

Okanagan vistaThe Drinking Water Protection Regulation requires that ground water considered to be at-risk of containing pathogens must be disinfected. Guidance on how to assess for this risk is provided in the Ministry of Health's Guidance Document for Determining Ground Water at Risk of Containing Pathogens (GARP) Version 2 ( the "GARP assessment document"). The treatment expectations are further outlined in the Drinking Water Treatment Objectives (Microbiological) for Ground Water Supplies in British Columbia (the "GWTO").

The Pollinizing Sessions

Border Free Bees and Okanagan Regional Library

Pollinating flowerThe Pollinizing Sessions: A Series of Talks and Workshops to Learn About Pollinators in Our Community. See the website for upcoming talks and how to register for workshops.


Downtown Kelowna Branch Okanagan Regional Library
1380 Ellis St. Kelowna
All talks are 7 pm – 8:30 pm

Free Admission- pre-register to save a seat (walk-ins are welcome)

Monday, February 29 Brian Campbell ( West Coast Seeds)
“The Relationship Between Bees and Plants: Stresses, Problems, and Solutions”

Thursday, March 3 Gwen Steele (Okanagan Xeriscape Association)
“Tips and Plants for Creating a Water-wise Pollinator Garden”

Monday, March 7 Tracey Kim Bonneau (President, Of the Land Productions Inc)
“Traditional Ecological Knowledge - Local Plant Foods and Bees”

Thursday, April 7 Elizabeth Elle (Simon Fraser University)
“Save the Wild Bees: How They Help Produce Our Food, and How You Can Help in their Conservation”

Thursday May 26 Lori Weidenhammer (Author and Artist)
"Women Who Run with the Bees: Artists Inspired by Bees and Artist-Led Conservation Projects"


Register in Advance- seats are limited
Note: these workshops are at a variety of locations

Sunday, March 13- “Growing Native Plants with Brian Campbell of Westcoast Seeds”
1 pm – 4:30 pm, Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre (969 Raymer Road)

Sunday, March 20- “Making Homes for Bees with Maureen Lisle and the Public Art Pollinator Pasture Project”- Linked to ORL Kelowna’s STEAM program.
1pm – 4 pm, Downtown Kelowna Branch, Okanagan Regional Library, 1380 Ellis St.

Saturday April 9- “Bee ID – Train to Be A Citizen Scientist with Elizabeth Elle”
10 am – 4 pm, The University of British Columbia, Okanagan, 3333 University Way

Science in Society Speaker Series

Another fascinating lecture from the Science in Society Speaker Series is happening in April at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College.

Let’s talk vaccines: Was there ever an Age of Reason?
Dr. Edgar Marcuse, University of Washington
7:30 pm,Thursday Apr 14, 2016
Okanagan College, Vernon Campus, Lecture Theatre

Science in Society Speaker Series Website


Papermaking for Bees

Bees made out of paperYou are invited to drop in at the “Papermaking for Bees” event at the Kelowna Art Gallery on Thursday, February 4 between 6 and 9 PM. The gallery is located at 1315 Water St, Kelowna. Admission is free but please pre-register.

This evening of paper-making is the first phase of For All is For Yourself, a community art project and gallery exhibition being held at the Kelowna Art Gallery from June 24 to October 2016. Part of the exhibition will be a wall of 10,000 laser-cut bumblebees made of paper that has been created by members of the community. The handmade paper will be embedded with Gaillardia seed, a drought-resistant flower that bees visit in the Okanagan’s hot summer months.. You can also help install the laser-cut bees in June and to come to the gallery in October to remove the bees in a community swarm and plant them in your gardens!

This project is sponsored by the Kelowna Art Gallery, The Public Art Pollinator Pasture Project at UBC, and Border Free Bees, a province-wide pollinator initiative. Find out more information by contacting ecoartokanagan at ubc.ca or through Public Art Pollinator Pasture's Facebook page or blog.

Sustainability Film Fest

Show Listings for the Sustainability Film Festival

Vernon Branch Library Meeting Room
2800 30th Avenue
Every Thursday in February
6:30-9:30 pm

Each film will be followed by a discussion.

North Okanagan Naturalists Club (NONC)

The next NONC meeting is Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:00 pm in the Sierra II Room at the Village Green Hotel, 27th St. at 48th Ave. Pat McAllister will present slides and a talk on 'Natural history of Southern Utah’.

The NONC meet Saturdays for a Nature Walk. See the website for more information.

Funding Opportunities

2016 Water Conservation and Quality Improvement (WCQI) Grant program

Okanagan Basin Water Board

Deadline: 4 p.m. Friday, February 12, 2016

Eligible recipients include non-profit community groups, local governments (regional districts or municipalities), and irrigation or improvement districts. This year's themes include source drinking water protection, drought planning, water flow monitoring, groundwater studies, irrigation improvement, and water metering. Even with the increased focus on specific types of projects, the Water Board will consider all eligible applications.

Successful applicants can receive up to $30,000 for their project. There is $300,000 in total available, with $56,820 to be awarded in the North Okanagan, $180,660 in the Central Okanagan, and $62,520 in the South Okanagan (figures based on percentage of tax each region contributes to the program.) Projects must have valley-wide benefit, recognizing that we are all part of ‘One valley. One water.’

The complete program guide and application forms can be found here.

Baillie Memorial Fund for Bird Research and Preservation

Student Research Award Deadline: February 15, 2016

The Baillie Fund provides grants to individuals, groups and organizations for projects that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. The Student Research Award is $1000. Details here.

Get Outdoors (GO) Grant

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation

Deadline: February 15th, 2016

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. For more information on grant criteria and how to apply, click here.

RBC Bluewater Project Community Action Grant

Royal Bank of Canada

Deadline: February 18, 2016

These grants range from $1,000 to $10,000, and are awarded to local or community-based organizations in Canada, the United States or the Caribbean for water related projects. For more information, visit their webpage.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF)

TD Bank

The TD FEF Leadership Grant program aims to enhance the organizational capacity of environmental charities by providing funding for both formal and informal training and development opportunities for leaders within these organizations. For more information, visit their website.

Volunteer Opportunities

Nature Kids

NatureKids of BC

This wonderful program to introduce children to nature has been operating strongly in the North Okanagan for a number of years. Recently, one of the leaders has decided to step down, and a new co-leader is needed, or the program might cease! There are about eight outings per year, plus a few planning meetings, so the time commitment is not great. If you have a passion for nature and enjoy working with children, your could make a life long impact upon a child.

If you are willing to join as a co-leader, please contact the NatureKids BC - North Okanagan.


Community Mapping Network

The Community Mapping Network is a data resource page that houses a variety of information relevant to conservation work in the Okanagan, including SHIM (Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping), BC Wetlands Atlas, BC NGO Conservation Lands Atlas, Okanagan Habitat Atlas, Shuswap Watershed Mapping Project. For more information visit the website.

Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of British Columbia’s New Water Law

A recent report from POLIS Water Sustainability Project (WSP), based out of UVic, Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of British Columbia’s New Water Law, provides a detailed analysis of the Water Sustainability Act and the core regulations required to bring its sustainable aspects into full effect. It outlines leading best practices from around the globe and offers clear recommendations for WSA regulation development in five key areas:

  1. Groundwater licensing
  2. Environmental flows
  3. Monitoring and reporting
  4. Water objectives
  5. Planning and governance.

The full report is available for download on the POLIS website.

Rosie Simms from POLIS will be travelling to various parts of BC between now and June to present on this recent research, so if you think it might be a topic of interest to your group & community, please contact her via their website.

Our Website Uses Cookies

The OCCP website uses cookies. Some are essential for the operation of the site. Others (i.e. tracking cookies) help us improve our site and its user experience.

It's your choice whether to allow cookies or not. Please note, however, that rejecting cookies, may disable some site functionality.