Steeves/Trail Mix: lots happening this weekend outdoors

There's not always agreement amongst outdoors lovers about how best to enjoy wilderness experiences.

Some want to be in the company of family and friends, while others desire a quiet and peaceful hike in the forest; some want to feel the power of a motor underneath them and the roar of their bike, while others would prefer to cycle quietly along mountain trails as they feel the thrill of silent speed; some notice every insect resting on a leaf while others see only the next rock in the trail.

But it's very satisfying to find something you can all agree on and to work together to create or restore habitat where all have found enjoyment in different ways.

There's not much in the way of grasslands in the Central Okanagan. It's mostly forest or waterfront where there are no buildings covering the natural environment.

But there's one pocket grassland on the Westside that's actually visible from right in Kelowna, miles and miles away. It's called Bald Range and it's a hill surrounded by forest just off Bear Main Forest Road.

Saturday, the sow bear and two cubs who normally call that home stayed well away from all the human activity on that steep bit of hill, as they scurried like ants from one side to the other and up and down it, toting chunks of dead pine to create check dams in the channel that had been carved through the middle of that grassy area from trails that had eroded soil and washed it down the hill.

The volunteers who gathered came out from the Peachland Sportsmen's Association, Central Okanagan Naturalists' Club, Kelowna Fish and Game Club, Oceola Fish and Game Club and the Okanagan Trail Riders' Association—an unlikely combination of people who normally would enjoy that area in very different ways.

They all wanted to heal that scar so grass would grow once again there and runoff would be diffused in its flow, throughout the slope rather than gathering in the one little gully to further wash away soil and plants.

Restoring it to its natural state provides good feed for deer and moose in the winter and early spring when the snow is deep in less exposed parts of their range, as well as encouraging different bird species, particularly raptors such as owls, to nest in the nearby forest, confident they can feed on the small mammals that populate such grassy meadows.

Preventing erosion there helps to improve water quality downstream as well as protecting the grassland itself.


Busy weekend

There's lots happening this weekend in the hills and on the lakes around Kelowna.

It's the 14th annual B.C. Family Fishing Weekend, so you don't need to buy a fishing licence this weekend to go fishing, but you do need to follow the regulations.

Saturday, the inaugural Kelowna Fishing Derby begins at dawn on Okanagan Lake to 3:30 p.m., with all proceeds to benefit the youth program of the B.C. Wildlife Federation here in the Okanagan. There are some unbelievable prizes in this derby, so register now at: www.kelownafishingderby.myevent.com or at The Train Station Pub 3-7 p.m. today. It's being hosted by the B.C. Sport Fishing Guide and Rodney's Reel Outdoors.

On a smaller scale, there's also a fishing derby Saturday being organized by the Peachland Sportsmen's Association at Shannon Lake in West Kelowna, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with prizes for those 15 and younger, including a salmon fishing day on the Fraser River this summer with Pirate Island Charters. Enjoy a fun day with the family, including a barbecue.

Sunday, the Kelowna Nordic ski club is organizing its annual adopt-a-highway clean-up of McCulloch Road between Highway 33 and the ski area. Meet at the Apple Bowl at 8 a.m. to carpool, or at the main cabin at 9 a.m. Hikers from the CONC will also be joining in the clean-up, as well as taking a short hike over the ski and snowshoe trails. All welcome.

Also Sunday, the OTRA will meet at 9 a.m. at the Aspen Trail Head in the Bear Creek Recreation Site (near Bald Range) for a Family Fun Ride. Sign up at 9 a.m. Remember that passes to ride that trail system will be required.

And, at the Bear Creek Motocross Track, the B.C. MotoCross Championships are in the ninth round Sunday with racing beginning at 10 a.m. It's an all-ages championship series and this is the last race before the final round, set for Chilliwack June 23. There's $9,000 in prize money being put up by Kelowna-based BigSteelBox, part of which will be handed out Sunday.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.





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