Peachland residents learned about their watershed for Watershed Awareness Field Day this past weekend and were surprised to see the Wilson lake system surrounded by clear cuts.
Veteran forester Chris King led 25 residents on a four-hour walking tour of Peachland’s watershed, where the group learned about what constitutes healthy forest management and what doesn’t.
The walking tour started at Montainview Park, on the boarder of Peachland and Crown land. At the two-kilometre mark on Princeton Road, citizens viewed the area near the zip line where Westbank First Nations has proposed tree harvesting; which is directly through the Bedford and Lookout Trails systems and mule deer winter range habitat.
En-route to the next destination which was the 60 year-old community Nordic and hiking trails surrounding Wilson Lakes, the participants witnessed significant roadside erosion and ditching.
“Residents who have been driving the Peachland Main and Brenda Mines road since the 1980s had never before seen 1.5 meter deep ditches roadside as were scoured this spring,” said Francis Stocks, an avid cross country skier who has called Peachland her home since birth.
“At Wilson Lakes, which used to be one of the healthiest game corridors in the watershed, only a thin row of stumped trees marked the barely discernible trails, but that is all the licensee is obligated to do if the trail system is not registered.”
Tour members were surprised to see that the entire lake system is now surrounded by clear cuts. The area has yet to be reforested; however, some small saplings, berry bushes and deciduous starts were evident. Disappointing to most walkers were the large ash piles left from slash pile burns, some covering 70 by 100 m.
At the awareness day, Gormans Brothers Mill represented the forestry industry, recreation interests were represented by the Peachland Nordic Club and the Peachland Outdoors Club.
A member of the South Okanagan Dirt Bike Club walked the route with a volunteer from the Peachland Riding Club.
The group also included eight local business owners, three organic farmers, representatives from numerous community organizations including the Peachland Residents Association, the Highway 97 In Place Committee, the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association, the Peachland Rotary Club and the Peachland Historical Society.