For World Environment Day (June 5), Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship is recognizing landowners and volunteers who have made a significant contribution towards a collaborative stewardship project on their property or have championed projects on public lands.“This year Canada has been chosen to host World Environment Day, the single largest celebration of our environment worldwide,” said OSS executive director Alyson Skinner. “The event is to showcase the beauty of our natural environment. The Okanagan and Similkameen region has a rich diversity of habitats and wildlife, including some plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. This is the perfect tie-in to recognize our stewards and volunteers that play a vital role in protecting those wildlife habitats and our region’s biodiversity.”
Building on a 23-year history of stewardship, OSS assists and supports communities and private property owners throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen in understanding and caring for natural environments. OSS is currently working in partnership with 70 Wildlife Habitat Stewards who are stewarding and enhancing over 3550 acres of important wildlife habitats.
“Being a steward doesn’t mean you can’t use your land,” said Skinner. “It’s all about balance. Our Wildlife Habitat Stewards still maintain their tourism, agricultural and other land use activities while implementing best management practices and acting as caretakers of important wildlife habitats on their properties.”
The recipients of the first annual Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Awards are:
• Village of Lumby; Riparian Habitat; Salmon path cleanup and restoration, including planting over 200 native plants.
• Wayne and Wendie Radies, Vernon; Wetland Habitat; Excavating and maintaining a wetland pond, including planting over 1000 native plants.
• Cal and Louise Paley, Coldstream; Wetland Habitat; Excavating and maintaining a pond and restoring a riparian forest, including planting 1260 plants.
• Keith and Marnie Manders, Summerland; Fencing riparian area around Eneas Creek and planting over 350 native trees and shrubs.
• Summerland Golf and Country Club; Turf removal and native planting in an out of play area adjacent to an important Tiger Salamander breeding pond, planting about 100 native plants in a habitat garden.
• Joan and Vern Sopow, Summerland; Invasive species management and planting 465 native plants in grassland and low elevation forest
• Alexis Friesen, Penticton; Converting backyard swimming pool into a wildlife pond.
• City of Penticton; habitat enhancement and removal of invasive plants and planting of over 500 native plants; Ellis Creek – planting of over 1000 plants, installation of interpretive signage and public bench.
• Gord and Steve Forbes, Oliver; Planting along the Forbes Family trail.
• Jim and Pat Linton, Oliver; creating Western painted turtle nesting beach.
• Anthea Bryan: founding director of OSS and one of the founders of the SOS stewardship program in 1994.
• Kelley Cook: organized community involvement (more than 100 volunteers each year) in Cormack Marsh enhancement project for past four years.
• Allan Garland: Ellis Basin and Riverside Marsh (Penticton), Road 22 (Oliver); removal of invasive weeds, hand watering plants not on the irrigation line, garbage removal.
• Sheila Monroe: Okanagan Landing Elementary School pollinator garden (Vernon); created and maintains pollinator garden at Okanagan Landing School.
“Our stewards and volunteers are the real champions of conservation in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Each of their contributions towards habitat stewardship builds on the rest and makes a significant difference,” adds Skinner.
For more information go to osstewardship.ca.