It was a complex natural environment in a small ravine in the Glenmore area last year, but work this winter on what is slated for a park in future has turned it into something that looks more like a driveway to an estate than a wild gully.
A neighbour to the future bit of parkland says she is in the habit of riding her horse through there, with the paid permission and a gate key from the farmer leasing the area, and the change this spring reminded her of the south slopes after the wildfire went through there in 2003.
“Except that’s a natural disaster and this is human-made,” commented Diane Patt, a veterinarian whose practice is nearby.
“It’s always been a pleasant place to ride in peace; to get away from the traffic and noise. It’s good for the soul to ride in the natural environment.
“But, now, there’s nowhere for birds to hide even. The ground is all dug up and the undergrowth taken out, and there are a lot fewer trees, which changes it completely.
“It would be a horrible shame if they cut down trees where the owls were nesting. It’s now quiet through there. There’s less birdsong than usual,” she commented.
The fate of a couple of pairs of great horned owls is of particular concern to another frequent visitor to the little natural ravine.
Jennifer French is coordinator and founder of Science Opportunities for Kids, which has been active in this area for decades, encouraging youngsters to learn about the science of wetlands by investigating wetlands, and to become excited about science by doing scientific things.
She lives near the little ravine and also has a key to the farmer’s gate to walk on the land he leases, so she frequently walks through the area.
However, earlier this spring, she noticed the great horned owls were flying outside the ravine, near where she lives and were behaving oddly for birds that would normally be busy feeding their chicks at this time of year.
When she visited the ravine, she was appalled at what she saw, and she believes the trees with their nests were removed and decked with the other logs.
Todd Cashin, environment and land use manager for the City of Kelowna, says he did sign a development permit for work to be done in the ravine this spring—fuel modification work to prevent wildfire. It’s located between housing and future housing development, between Robert Lake and Carney Pond.
However, he says the city’s top priority is to protect the gully, which has been identified in the environment report as a wildlife corridor; a large contiguous natural area with considerable biodiversity.
Although it is clearly marked in land use plans as future parkland, and talks are underway with the land’s owners, he points out it is private land still.
But Diane Patt is not impressed with the work. “It’s just a small area, so they could easily have done a more-careful job of fuel management. There should have been some supervision so they didn’t just trash the place. It was a unique little wild gully.”