Burnett: Save natural state of hillside lots

Local species will happily carry on life as they have for thousands of years.

As more homes are being built on hillside properties, I think the builders should consider it a priority to preserve as much of the site in its natural state as possible.

Believe it or not, the easiest low maintenance portion of the lot will be the part left in its natural state.

I was thinking of this the other day as I was walking about a property that was ready for landscaping to begin.

During the building stage, either for easy access or just convenience, a great portion of the property was used for machinery, delivery trucks and just general traffic.

On these areas, a plethora of invasive weeds such as dandelions, plantain, mullen, knapp weed and crab grass were getting well established. With the untouched areas, not a weed was in sight.

Only native Bunch Fescue Festuca idahoensis, Pussy Toes Antennaria neglecta, Okanagan Sunflower Balsamorhiza sagittata, Indian Paint Brush Castilleja miniata and several species of lichens and mosses were happily carrying on life as they have been for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, the untouched areas were the minority.

It was pretty much impossible to include them in the landscape theme so the final blow to thousands of years of building up a beautiful natural garden with checks and balances in place to keep out the weeds was to plough them up and install a “state of the art” landscape which forever needs a constant maintenance program.

Just as landscaping should be an important part of the budget planning for a new home and not just an afterthought (“Oh, you mean there is a cost to professional landscaping?”), a knowledgeable horticulturist should be brought in before the first stake is driven into the ground to determine if and what portions of the property should be protected.

These areas need to be fenced off to prevent any vehicle traffic or even heavy foot and wheel barrow entry.

At the end of the day, there should not be a need to irrigate these areas because even that will disrupt the natural processes of the drought loving species that live there.

Now think about what I have just written and set your mind to the big picture of our surrounding hillsides and ecosystems that took thousands of years to establish but are in jeopardy of being lost forever due to development or recreational traffic. Fortunately, there are organizations dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen and they need our support.

The premier group in our province is the Nature Trust of British Columbia (www.naturetrust.bc.ca), which has been procuring land to its trust since the early 1970s. With the help of businesses, institutions and just concerned citizens like you and I, the Nature Trust is continuing to protect vulnerable tracts of land from destruction while for the most part retaining the ability for us and future generations to access and enjoy them in a responsible way.

You can have a lot of fun doing this as well by joining me and hundreds of others at the Earth Wind Fire event Saturday, June 21, at the Delta Grand when top chefs and wineries will present their creations and you will be entertained by musicians and a live auction featuring the “Great Wall of Wine.”

Kelowna Capital News

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