In this issue:

Everyday Actions for Okanagan Ecosystems

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

Reflecting On Our Cooperation

This May, we encourage you to keep those intentions you had on Earth Day throughout the next year, and we invite you to think about how your everyday actions can contribute to enhancing biodiversity in the Okanagan. OCCP supports a wide variety of work that helps local community members and governments make informed decisions about how to take everyday action to keep biodiversity in our future.

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

… protecting this special place is our shared responsibility.

With this Statement of Cooperation we are focusing the energies and efforts of the conservation partners so that each can make a distinctive yet coordinated contribution toward addressing the environmental challenges facing the natural system. We will engage the considerable skills, energy and resources of governments, community groups, educators, youth, workers, industry and business. We intend to work through the many cooperative mechanisms currently in place to inform and involve local governments, community groups, educators, youth, workers, industry and business. This will help ensure an open and transparent process of establishing priorities, identifying opportunities for effective cooperative action, and measuring progress. We will work with and be guided by community supported; broad based planning initiatives that affect the Okanagan natural system. The Growth Management Strategies and Official Community Plans of Regional Districts in the Okanagan will be key planning tools that will help to focus our efforts in the Okanagan natural system."

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 all Okanagan residents in identifying everyday actions to protect Okanagan biodiversity.





Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is now an official partner of OCCP and SOSCP

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) logoOCCP is excited to announce that the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) has become an official partner of OCCP and SOSCP.

OCCP, the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program, and the Okanagan Basin Water Board have been working with TOTA over the last year on the successful designation of the Thompson-Okanagan region as a Biosphere Sustainable Tourism Destination. This designation commits TOTA to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations and supported through the Paris Climate Accord. TOTA has also recently committed to the OCCP Statement of Cooperation, which acknowledges a shared responsibility for protecting this region's biodiversity. TOTA's management team and their Board of Directors are pleased to have this new strategic alliance, and they have also agreed to take on the financial administration for OCCP.

Thank You! Alan Brooks Nature Centre

Allan Brooks Nature Centre Societyn (ABNCS) logoThe Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society has been the financial administrator for OCCP since its inception in 2007. We would like to take this opportunity to thank ABNCS for their dedicated service and contribution to the creation and continued operation of OCCP, and for partnering on a wide range of conservation and community outreach projects over the last eleven years. We look forward to continuing to work with ABNCS through the OCCP Steering Committee, and developing new project partnerships.

Outside the entrance to the Alan Brooks Nature Centre during last October's Respect FestOCCP and everyone in the Okanagan have been watching the lake levels, the snow pack, and the temperatures and new weather fronts with trepidation. We would like to recognize the enormous amount of forethought and planning that has gone into monitoring and interpreting data, and determining how to respond to such an extreme combination of events as we have seen. We are thinking of all of the displaced landowners, emergency operations, and emergency response teams that are affected by recent flooding.

Watching the Lake Levels

OCCP and everyone in the Okanagan have been watching the lake levels, the snow pack, and the temperatures and new weather fronts with trepidation. We would like to recognize the enormous amount of forethought and planning that has gone into monitoring and interpreting data, and determining how to respond to such an extreme combination of events as we have seen. We are thinking of all of the displaced landowners, emergency operations, and emergency response teams that are affected by recent flooding.

Links to Local Emergency Operations Centre Websites:

Establishing a Conservation Fund in the North Okanagan

Allan Brooks Nature Centre Societyn (ABNCS) logoLast year, OCCP and SOSCP were requested to appear as a delegation before the Regional District of North Okanagan Board of Directors regarding establishment of a Conservation Fund in the North Okanagan. A Conservation Fund is a local government service that is funded through a dedicated tax or fee, held and overseen by the local government, and earmarked for the specific purpose of undertaking projects that support environmental conservation and community sustainability. By taking the initiative to establish a conservation fund, local governments are recognizing the importance of biodiversity and a healthy natural world for maintaining human health and community resilience.

We are pleased to announce that at the April 18, 2018 regular meeting of the RDNO Board of Directors, the following resolution was passed:

"That staff be directed to draft a service establishment bylaw for a proposed Regional Conservation Fund Service with Electoral Areas "B", "C", "D", "E" and "F" as participants with the Tax Requisition rate set at $0.02 per $1000 of taxable land and improvements; and further;

That a letter be forwarded to member municipalities to determine interest in participating in a Regional Conservation Fund Service at a Tax Requisition rate set at $0.02 per $1000 of taxable land and improvements"

Based upon the proposed tax rate, the Conservation Fund for the RDNO Electoral Areas would cost about $7.00 per year for an average residential property assessed at $350,000, and would generate approx. $78,000 annually for conservation initiatives. This amount would increase if the neighbouring member municipalities also decide to participate in the Conservation Fund.

Conservation Funds provide residents and community groups the opportunity to identify, and apply for funds to invest in projects that protect and enhance the local natural environment:

  • Protecting clean, abundant water resources
  • Preserving natural places for people to enjoy
  • Restoring and maintaining important habitats for fish and wildlife
  • Enhancing the viability of local agriculture, food production, and other renewable resources
  • Maintaining and enhancing ecosystem health to be more resilient to the effects of a changing climate, such as floods, fire, and drought

OCCP will conduct presentations on the benefits of Conservation Funds based upon the request from RDNO member municipalities.

OCCP Presentation on Wildlife Corridors and Ecological Connectivity in the Okanagan

Marshy area edged by trees with mountains in the distance

OCCP recently spoke at the Friends of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park AGM about planning for wildlife corridors and ecological connectivity in the Okanagan. OCCP presented an overview of the project, and our recent work with the District of Lake Country, the City of Kelowna, the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Lael Parrott at UBC Okanagan, and others to identify available actions to protect ecological corridors on a local scale, and across the region, through all types of land uses.

We discussed the Foreshore Inventory and Mapping Update of Okanagan Lake in 2016, and upcoming work supporting several lake management initiatives through the Okanagan Basin Water Board Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant. We also discussed OCCP's work with the SOSCP and the Regional District of North Okanagan to explore starting a Conservation Fund in the North Okanagan.

Update: amphibian survey in Cherryville

Close up of a small green frog

OCCP had some all-star response to our frog-call for help on an amphibian survey in Cherryville. Now that the roads are snow-free, we look forward to going out to complete our first FrogWatch survey soon.

OCCP Information Table Sightings

OCCP also hosted an information table and distributed seeds of native Okanagan wildflowers at a Kelowna Nectar Trail Bee Ambassador event and the Okanagan Xeriscape Associations Annual Plant Sale at UnH20 Gardens.

Volunteers Wanted

OCCP is looking for volunteers to help with another restoration planting project in the Kelowna area. Please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more and get involved.

Garden Planting Event at Glenmore Elementary

In April, OCCP responded to a request for support for a garden planting event with a class from Glenmore Elementary. OCCP provided seeds and live plants of a variety of species that are good for wild bees and pollinators. Gwen Steele of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association provided a planting plan for three garden beds: a food plant bed, a native okanagan species bed, and a horticultural bed. The idea is that students could observe the pollinators over time, and compare the three groups of plants. Will these citizen scientists discover that different plants host different pollinators?

The three planting beds waiting for the studentsStudents and instructors gathered around one of the planting beds

OCCP hosted a plant-themed learning station, while the teacher hosted a station to review resources about bees and other pollinators provided by Nancy Holmes and Border Free Bees. A third group of students planted one of the garden beds with guidance from parent volunteers. After 45 minutes, the class changed stations. OCCP's plant-themed station allowed students to get hands on with exploring how to recognize different plant families by their common characteristics.

Close up of a planting bed; watering the freshly planted plantsClose up of a completed planting bed

The students recognized corn, even though it was a hard pointy black popcorn variety. They looked at, smelled, and tasted chives, onion leaves, garlic, and leeks to notice how they had similar looks and smells and flowers. They looked at and smelled carrots and parsley and parsnip seeds and looked at their similar umbrella shaped seed heads. They cleaned chickpeas from their pods as we talked about other plant families, like the sunflower family, what things are similar in each family, and that these plant families are great for bees.

Our station ended with each student making a seed ball of crop seeds and native Okanagan species to take home with them. This part of the lesson included touch jars of the components of the seed ball soil mixture: organic soil/compost (dead plants, holds water and provides nutrients), mineral soil (eroded rock, provides minerals), clay (tiny pieces of rock/ minerals, holds the ball together), and worm compost tea...which the students gleefully named pee tea!

This event was fundraised and coordinated by dedicated parents and teachers. It was a pleasure to be a small part of the outdoor learning that the teachers at Glenmore Elementary are undertaking. We look forward to more support for outdoor education in the coming year through a successful Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant application to the Okanagan Basin Water Board, to support the development of water-themed curriculum resources for local teachers. This project is in partnership with the Regional District of North Okanagan, Wildrose Traditionals, Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society, and many others. Contact OCCP if you are interested in learning more.

OCCP is also working with the Regional District of Central Okanagan Parks Staff to support an outdoor learning opportunity for Anne McClymont Elementary at the EECO Centre. OCCP is helping compile resources about monarch butterflies, as well as plants and seeds of showy milkweed for the students to plant at the Mission Creek Park EECO Centre, in support of monarchs.

Partner & Conservation News

Help, Flooding! What do I do?

A message from Bryn White, SOSCP Program Manager, May Newsletter

Confused about who to call when your private property is flooding?
Contact your local government office first as they are on the front line and are authorized to declare states of emergency and undertake flood protection works.

It is important that landowners are aware of legislation related to works in or about a stream or waterbody. Landowners are not permitted to do works in and about a stream during a flood emergency (except to sandbag), but local governments are.

Excellent support materials and information for landowners are also available on the Regional District Emergency Operations Centre web pages.

Many levels of legislation apply to works in and about a stream and other waterbodies. If you are unsure about legislation or authorizations that are required, contact your local government first, then inquire with the Province at Front Counter BC: 1-877-855-3222.

Sandbags piled up to reduce flooding of Watt Road

Comment on Species At Risk Assessments

On October 24, 2017, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) submitted 56 assessments of species at risk to the federal

Minister of the Environment. On January 22, 2018, the Government of Canada posted the Ministerial Response Statements for these species on the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry, and public consultations on the amendment of Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk under SARA have been launched.

A complete set of statements and the consultation path for each species are available here.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is seeking comment on the proposed amendment of Schedule 1 resulting from assessments of 21 terrestrial species. Thirteen of these are newly eligible for addition to Schedule 1 while three are being considered for up-listing to a higher risk status and five are being considered for down-listing to a lower risk status. Twelve terrestrial species at risk have had their current Schedule 1 status confirmed. These are not included in this consultation process, as no regulatory amendment is required.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is conducting separate consultations for 18 aquatic species. An additional five aquatic species are status confirmations for which public consultations are not required.

Additional information on the listing and consultation processes for terrestrial species, as well as the process to amend Schedule 1 by adding or reclassifying species, is available in "Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act -Terrestrial Species: January 2018". This document also includes a questionnaire that will provide you with guidance on the types of information and comments we are seeking. It is posted on the SAR Public Registry.

Invitation to submit comments on potential impacts of amending the List of Wildlife Species at Risk

You are invited to submit comments on the potential impacts of amending the List of Wildlife Species at Risk according to these COSEWIC status assessments. Your comments will be considered and will inform the Minister’s recommendation to Cabinet. Please provide remarks by May 22, 2018 for species under a normal consultation process.

Four terrestrial species will follow an extended consultation process. Please provide remarks by October 22, 2018 for species following an extended consultation path.

There will also be an opportunity to provide comments during the 30-day public consultation period associated with pre-publication in Canada Gazette Part I. More detailed information on individual species is included in the COSEWIC status reports, which are available on the SAR Public Registry. The Public Registry also provides more general information about SARA.

Commitment to Sustainable Tourism

Big Winners in Sustainable Destination Management, The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) was named the 2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual summit in the category of Destinations for their work on destination management practices and sustainable tourism initiatives.

TOTA embarked on a journey in 2010 to develop what became the region’s 10 Year Tourism Industry Strategy. Together with all industry stakeholders and communities, the dream of a collaborative, cohesive and aligned strategic direction for the Thompson Okanagan became a reality under the banner “Embracing Our Potential”.

TOTA’s commitment to sustainability was elevated in late 2017 with the successful achievement as the first destination in the America’s to achieve the Biosphere Sustainable Tourism Destination designation (one of only 21 world-wide) through the Responsible Tourism Institute. This designation commits the Thompson Okanagan to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations and supported through the Paris Climate Accord.

Glenn Mandziuk (far left), President & CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, accepting the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Destination Award.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, after recently being accredited as a Biosphere Certified Destination, is launching an industry initiative that provides the opportunity for tourism stakeholders to align with the Biosphere Sustainable Commitment. Our goal is to establish collaborative synergies within our tourism industry by inviting stakeholders to adopt the Biosphere commitment to sustainability. For more information on the program and how you can get involved please visit: totabc.org/biosphereadhesion or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are the world’s top accolade in sustainable tourism; they recognize the highest ethical standards in the sector and are respected by industry leaders, governments, and international media alike. The awards are aimed at recognizing best practice in sustainable tourism within the industry globally, based upon the principles of environmentally friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and direct benefits to the social and economic well-being of local people in travel destinations around the world. Originally, there were over 175 contenders from 63 countries for this year’s prestigious award.

Myra-Bellevue Park Grows

News from TOTA 
May 4, 2018, 9:47 am • Nicholas Johansen

Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park has grown by 16.4 hectares after the province recently bought a parcel of private land. The land, known as the Harvard Road vacant acreage and located on the north end of the 7,677-hectare park, was purchased by the government for $947,000.

The parcel of land contains an open forest and grassland ecosystem, as well as a significant wetland,” the province said in a news release.“The property contains habitat that supports various wildlife, some of which is considered at-risk in the province. Securement of the property also greatly increases habitat connectivity within the balance of the park.” The land is also part of the Crawford-area mountain bike trail system.

“Friends of South Slope started advocating for the property to be purchased when the previous owner died in 2006,” said Isabel Pritchard, with Friends of South Slope, a volunteer organization that promotes outdoor recreation in Myra-Bellevue and Okanagan Mountain Provincial Parks. “It is considered to be highly important to Myra Bellevue Park, because the public has been using it for many years.

The Central Okanagan Land Trust celebrates the Munson Pond Project

Photo credit: Judie Steeves

On the afternoon of Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) held an Open House at Munson Pond. After three years of hard work, it was time to celebrate that work and to acknowledge all of the wonderful community supporters who came forward to see the project through.

With the cooperation of the City of Kelowna and some seed funding from the federal EcoAction Program, COLT was able to launch a community wide initiative that eventually drew supporters from across the Central Okanagan. Those important partners included: Okanagan Basin Water Board, Central Okanagan Foundation, the Colin and Lois Pritchard Foundation, Starbucks Coffee Canada, Kelowna Christian School, Okanagan Mission Lions Club, Interior Land Reclamation, OCEOLA Fish and Game Club, Girl Guides and many more. This was truly a community-based project.

The Earth Day celebrations at Munson Pond included the planting of a few hundred plants, some wonderful tours of the pond, and some kind and supportive words from Mayor Colin Basran. Early strong support for the Munson Pond project came from former City Councilor Robert Hobson and former Mayor, Walter Gray, and Walter was able to attend the event. Also in attendance was Steve Munson, whose family the pond and park are named after. Over the life of the three-year project, a one-kilometer trail was build, a small foot bridge and elevated walkway were installed, and two viewing platforms were constructed on the east and west sides of the pond. In addition, the volunteer groups cropped out mountains of invasive plant species, planted thousands of native species of plants, and cleaned the park and foreshore of bags and bags of garbage. The final piece of work will be the installation of interpretive signage not the viewing platforms.

Photo credit: Ryan Donn

COLT holds a Conservation Covenant on Munson Pond and, to help serve the obligation to care for the pond ‘in perpetuity’, the Board of Directors established the Munson Pond Endowment Fund - a fund registered with the Central Okanagan Foundation. The primary use of monies generated by the new fund will go toward work needed at Munson Pond in the future. Donations to this new endowment fund are tax deductible, so if you would like to support COLT in its ongoing work to care for the fragile and at-risk wildlife habitats in the Central Okanagan, please make a donation today. Contact either COLT or the Central Okanagan Foundation, or you can now donate on line through our website.

Photo credit: Ryan Donn

Wayne Wilson
Executive Director
Central Okanagan Land Trust

A Day of Action with OSSS

Spadefoot tadpoles develop in ponds, irrigation ditches, ephemeral wetlands, dormant swimming pools, and other shallow bodies of water where there are no predatory fish.

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society works directly with private landowners and communities to support them in on-the-ground wildlife habitat conservation and enhancement throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. OSSS recently visited a local pool owner in the south Okanagan who had contacted several conservation organizations to get help with relocating the spadefoots in her swimming pool. OSSS confirmed that she did have spadefoots. The landowner had invited a homeschooler group during the time of the OSSS visit, so they ended up hosting an impromptu lesson on amphibians.

OSSS helped find a suitable spot to move the spadefoots, chorus frogs, and egg masses to, and provided the pool owner with some amphibian escape ramps for the pool (for once it has been filled and treated). There was an existing 1995 record of the rare Behr's Hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium behrii) on this landowner's property line and they said that they would be interested in OSSS coming out to do a survey during the butterfly's flight window. They also have Bighorn Sheep and Lewis's Woodpecker in the area, and OSSS provided the landowner with information on those species as well.

Outdoor Learning in Oyama

Submitted by Jennifer French, Program Coordinator
Science Opportunities for Kids Society (SOKS)

OCCP founding member society SOKS will be working in Lake Country to support the community planning at Oyama Traditional School and the potential to develop a wetland visitor centre.

Initial planning and first steps have started with gardens and permaculture ideals in mind. The grade 3s and 4s in the split class led by inspired teacher Pippa Dean-Veerman are planting a June harvested garden starting with strawberries. They also envision a xeriscape garden and building a pollinator's garden following the model the Kelowna Nectar Trail project, led by Nancy Holmes at UBCO. Garden plants will be selected for the capacity to support bees and other pollinators. The future years will include a board walk along the adjacent wetland and perhaps a wetland centre, where OYT students can learn and then lead other school children and community members to explore. Watch this publication for updates.

Snow Pack Report

The May 1st, 2018 snow survey is now complete. Data from 150 snow courses and 72 automated snow weather stations around the province (collected by the Ministry of Environment Snow Survey Program, BC Hydro and partners), and climate data from Environment and Climate Change Canada forms the basis of a new report. The report, including full survey data, snow basin map, seasonal forecasts and comparison with previous years is available on the River Forecast Centre website.

The May 1st snow index for the Okanagan is 206% of normal, which is the highest observed snow pack dating back to 1980.

Become a Bat Watcher!

Do you have bats living in a bat house or building? Bat Watch is a citizen science program to help with bat conservation. Between June 1 to 21, for one hour, sit outside at sunset and count bats as they emerge from their roosts.

Barns, church steeples and other structures can provide a summer home to female bats and their young. Monitoring these "maternity colonies" can give biologists a good idea of how bat populations in an area are doing from year to year.

For more information, visit www.bcbats.ca<./a> or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

Keeping you in the Garden: a physiotherapy approach

Saturday May 26, 10 AM - Noon.
Learn how to overcome the physical challenges of gardening with a registered physiotherapist, Chris Stokes.

Learn with the Summerland Ornamental Gardens

Workshops are free for FOG members, $10 for non-members. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Advanced Field Ornithology: Identification and Surveys by Sound
Revelstoke, BC. June 4-6, 2018.

Wetland Classification. Revelstoke, BC. June 21-22, 2018.

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.

Introduction to Willow Identification. Revelstoke, BC. July 9-10, 2018
More new course opportunities to be announced soon - check cmiae.org for details!

Webinar: Don't Let it Loose - a Tale of Two Species: American bullfrogs and Goldfish

Date: May 24th, 2018
Time: 12:00 pm—1:00 pm
Webinar Registration link.

Presenters: Laurie Carr, Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society and Sue Staniforth, Invasive Species Council of BC.

Overview: We encourage all pet and aquarium owners to practice Don't Let it Loose. Join this webinar and learn why it's so important not to release pets into the wild through two case studies: American bullfrogs in the Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary region and Goldfish in Whistler Resort Municipality. Learn about the efforts to eradicate these two invasive species and why prevention is so much better than cure - Don't Let it Loose!

BCWF Wetlands recently reported that they had an excellent Map our Marshes Workshop, and saw thousands of goldfish at Rose Valley Elementary School wetland.

Wetland Design Course from the Kootenay Conservation Program

May 14-July 26 (online)

Dr. Tom Biebighauser has been actively involved in wetland construction and restoration in the Kootenays and provides his expertise to many KCP Partners. This online course provides an opportunity to deepen that knowledge.

Design is a graduate-level, online class taught by Dr. Tom Biebighauser through the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering that shows how to design and build naturally appearing and functioning wetlands. The detailed lessons clearly explain the values of wetlands, how wetlands were drained, factors affecting site selection for restoration, construction techniques, and how non-functioning wetlands may be repaired. Assignments are completed independently and require working outdoors.

Engineering, biology, hydrology, and landscape architecture students are welcome to register. The course has been developed and improved over a 5-year period by Dr. Tom Biebighauser, receiving numerous high reviews. Click here for more information.

Events

Free Presentation and OXA Annual General Meeting

Presentation Topic: Fire Smart and Xeriscape Plants

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Times: 6:45pm - 7:45pm - free presentation, everyone invited
7:45pm - 8:30pm - Annual General Meeting
Note: Doors open at 6:30pm
Refreshments will be available
2018 OXA Memberships can be purchased at the event
Location: Okanagan Regional Library, 1380 Ellis St, Kelowna

With the increasing threat of wildfires in urban-forest interface areas there is strong encouragement to change home landscapes (in these situations) to minimize the spread of fire.

Xeriscape specialist, Eva Antonijevic will delve into a wealth of information concerning the very pertinent topic of Fire Smart landscaping. She will show how appropriate, water-wise plants and landscapes (while still looking lush and beautiful) can reduce the vulnerability of buildings and property to wildfire.

21st Annual Meadowlark Nature Festival

May 17-21

Ever wonder what's beyond your back yard? Explore the spectacular natural wonders of the Okanagan and Similkameen with Meadowlark Nature Festival offering over 70 tours led by experts in their fields. For tickets and information call 250-492-5375 or go to www.meadowlarkfestival.ca.

Great Canadian Birdathon

For a number of years now several NONC members have taken part in this annual birdathon, sponsored in Canada by Bird Studies Canada. It is a fundraiser for BSC, but also for NONC, as a portion of the funds raised are returned to NONC. We use them to support our bluebird and hummingbird programs, as well as some other initiatives. This year, instead of asking you to chose an individual to support, we have created a team: The Hooters!

Members of the Hooters will chose their own 24 hour period to go out and record as many species as possible. We invite NONC members and friends to make a donation, of any amount, towards our efforts.

Wanted – seam-stitchers with sewing machines!

If you would like to show kids how to sew simple cloth shopping bags on May 16 (to coincide with reduction in plastic bag use in Vernon shops), please contact Joel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at Vernon Christian School.

Let’s quickly become a Boomerang Bag city! Boomerang Bags (Youtube video)

Also, keep an eye out for when the Vernon Library sets a date for everyone tobring their machines and sew cloth shopping bags at the library!

Save Our Species

Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana) contributed by OCCP volunteers Christopher Mower & Michela Fortini

What’s going on now?

In B.C., adults begin to emerge from hibernation in early to mid-April and move quickly to breeding ponds where males begin to call. We expect to see females laying up to 800 black eggs in areas of shallow water. Most toadlets will appear in July and disperse from the breeding sites in mass numbers!

Fun Facts

  • The Great Basin Spadefoot has a black, keratinous ridge on the sole of each hind foot which resembles a spade and it’s used for burrowing!
  • They are only one of two species of spadefoots that reside in Canada
  • They cover a huge range extent occurrence is up to 30,770 km²
  • Spadefoot tadpoles have among the shortest development times of all anurans (toads) - an adaptation that allows them to effectively exploit temporary pools
  • Spadefoots respond rapidly to changing environmental conditions and breed explosively when temperatures are suitable and breeding sites are full of water.
  • They may live up to 10 years!

Spadefoots' Life in the Okanagan

The Great Basin Spadefoot is a species of amphibian that grow up to 65mm long and have a squat body form and short legs. Their colour ranges from light grey, olive, or brown with lighter streaks and small raised dark blotches. They live in the inter-montane region between the Rocky Mountains and Coastal Ranges from south-central BC all the way south to Arizona! In Canada, the species is restricted to the arid/semi-arid zones of south-central BC and occurs right here in the Okanagan Valley.

Found in grassland and open woodland habitats, the spadefoot requires aquatic habitats for breeding and terrestrial habitats for foraging, hibernation, and aestivation. These habitats must be suitably connected to allow for seasonal movements. Spadefoots shelter underground from unfavourable conditions and require terrestrial habitat all year.

They breed across a wide range of water bodies but prefers temporary ponds. The entire development, from egg to toadlet, can be completed in as little as 5 weeks.

The Great Basin Spadefoot in B.C. is threatened by habitat loss and degradation due to human activities. Dry grasslands in the South Okanagan are under huge development pressures from intensive agriculture and urbanization. Wetlands and temporary pools are naturally rare and continue to be lost/degraded.

Other threats include:

  • habitat fragmentation
  • road mortality
  • pesticides
  • sport fish and bullfrog introductions
  • degradation of breeding sites and margins by livestock

How we can help

The Great Basin Spadefoot is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). There is also a Provincial Recovery Plan, a National Recovery Strategy, and the South Okanagan - Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) currently in place.

Pesticide exposure has caused poor hatching success in these species. Outreach programs that make farmers aware of the adverse effects pesticides have on endangered species will be essential to encourage reduced use of pesticides.

Join the fun!

The B.C. Frogwatch Program encourages the public to report sightings, help with surveys, and learn more about the distribution of the Great Basin Spadefoot and other toad species at risk.

Landowners with Spadefoot habitat on their property are advised to fence their ponds and minimize the impact of their livestock on this habitat.

Creating ponds on protected conservation lands will increase the number of high quality breeding habitats available for this species. This is particularly essential in the Okanagan lowland valley, where many ponds are currently threatened with destruction, drainage, and pesticide contamination.

Listen to a spadefoot here.
More Information at the BC Government's Ministry of Environment factsheet about Great Basin Spadefoots page.

Funding Opportunities

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation Public Conservation Assistance Fund

Application Deadline: May 16

The Public Conservation Assistance Fund provides small grants to organizations and individuals who have a conservation project in mind but need financial help to make it happen. Projects must be of a conservation nature, with priority given to projects that focus on activities that maintain, conserve or restore native (indigenous) fish and wildlife species and their habitats. PCAF will fund eligible expenses up to $10,000 in any one year.

Resources

New online resource from the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and Fraser Basin Council

The Water Board and Fraser Basin Council introduced a new online resource with more than 60 planning guides to help build climate resilient communities.

Since early 2016, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) has been working with various partners to identify planning guides and toolkits that provide legal mechanisms, policies, and best practices for climate change adaptation and sustainable land and water use. Now we are working to improve the uptake of these valuable and important documents. We're excited to announce that the OBWB and CivicInfo BC have joined forces and created a new online hub that brings more than 60 resources together into one searchable database.

Kootenay Conservation Program Winter Webinar Series Recordings

If you missed the latest webinar in the 2018 KCP Winter Webinar Series, the recording has been made available on the KCP website.

Fish and Wildlife Mapping: Tools everyone should know about

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Wednesday, February 28, 10am-11am PST/11am-noon MST

Do you want to be able to access fish and wildlife data for your projects? Or create maps with fish and wildlife locations?

Join Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy Fish and Wildlife Information Specialist Albert Chirico, R.P.Bio. to learn about data standards and requirements for submitting fish and wildlife data, a demonstration of BC Government digital libraries (CLIR, EcoCat and SIWE) and spatial tools (Habitat Wizard, iMap), and a look into what the future holds.