Opinion

Steeves: Introduce youngsters to wonders of nature during spring break

With decent weather forecast for next week, and the kids out of school, it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to Mother Nature.

Or, to let them spend a little more time with her.

We have a wide variety of parks in this area, each with a particular natural feature that sets it apart from its surroundings.

One of my favourite provincial parks in this area is Fintry, about an hour up Westside Road, but with plenty for youngsters to do, including use up some of that excess energy along the pathways and the stairs that follow the series of waterfalls on Shorts Creek as it tumbles into Okanagan Lake.

Kids can also walk the half-mile labyrinth adjacent to the historic Manor House and explore the historic buildings or their surroundings.

Lots of birds call the grounds home and there are plenty of places to cycle around the grounds as well as hiking trails and a mile of beach.

Along the same road, there are two regional parks on Okanagan Lake, Raymer Bay and Trader’s Cove, along with an upland one with lots of hiking trails and some beautiful views, Rose Valley.

Still on the west side of the lake, there are regional parks such as Hardy Falls south of Peachland, which features a trail along the creek to a lovely waterfall; Gellatly Nut Farm, with a historic nut orchard, heritage buildings and beach near the Gellatly Heritage Regional Park with nice views, a historic cemetery and log home and barn.

Then, there’s Glen Canyon Regional Park, reached from many spots between the lake and high in Glenrosa, with trails along the creek, deep in the canyon; and Shannon Lake park, with trails and grassy areas along the lake where games can be played or a picnic eaten.

There’s also a Free Spring Discovery at that park on Monday, March 28, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., a morning of free family fun, including outdoor games and activities.

Kalamoir is one of the best and earliest places around to enjoy spring sunflowers and it’s a great loop trail, all overlooking Okanagan Lake.

In Kelowna, the city’s Knox Mountain Park provides some grand trails with panoramic views, a bit of history and early wildflowers, as well as wildlife and bird watching opportunities.

Take a trip around Rotary Marsh right downtown and watch the first birds building nests for the season.

Flatter trails and lots more interaction with nature is available at Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, and there’s an emphasis on bird watching, with fewer trails at the city’s Maude Roxby Bird Sanctuary, but an active park with swings and such for little ones is adjacent.

There are lots more including in the South Slopes where mountain bikers can get a good workout as well as hikers; but I can’t include them all here.

You’ll have to do a bit of research if you want more information.

There’s also the Mission Creek Greenway if a longer walk, or a good cycling trip, and at the EECO there’s a display of local birds of prey right now which the kids would find fascinating.

During Spring Break, there are kids’ programs at the EECO called Nature Detectives Spring Break Camps, with different activities for different ages.

For details of these and regional parks go to the regional district website at: www.regionaldistrict.com and click on the park programs brochure on the left.

For information about city parks, go to www.kelowna.ca and click on residents, then parks and beaches. There’s also information about activities and programs on the first page.

For West Kelowna parks, go to www.districtofwestkelowna.ca and click on I Want To, and then parks.

You can also check out the action at the Okanagan Regional Library branches at www.orl.bc.ca

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Anglers should be interested in a townhall-type meeting being held by the B.C. Sportfishing Coalition to encourage everyone in the province to make their feelings known about the federal fisheries minister’s plans for this year recreational halibut fishery.

Dave Hodgkinson, fish and wildlife vice-president of the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club, which has donated its facility for the meeting, says the federal department seems to be committed to private ownership of fish resources, with nothing left for recreational anglers.

He wonders what this might mean for Pacific salmon or trout in the Okanagan, if anglers don’t fight back.

Learn more at the meeting March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the clubhouse, 4041 Casorso Rd.

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The Nordic Cross Country Ski Club has extended its season this year to March 26, because of excellent snow conditions. The wiener roast at high noon, scheduled for March 19, has been moved to Saturday, March 26.

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Watch for details about a new event this year, being put on to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club—an all-day Sunflower Festival Saturday, April 30, at Mission Creek Regional Park, and around the region. Go to: okanagannature.org

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

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