Steeves/Trail Mix: Volunteer so our wild areas continue to thrive

Armed with the perspective gained from travel to another country, it's easy to see the impact volunteers have on this community.

Travel permits comparisons and adds perspective to what you see when you return home. A local hiker here compares a young saguaro cactus with local Douglas fir trees

Travel permits comparisons and adds perspective to what you see when you return home. A local hiker here compares a young saguaro cactus with local Douglas fir trees

Probably the biggest plus of travelling to another country is that it provides you with a clearer perspective on your own community.

I don’t mean just cactus versus Douglas firs or sun vs cloud, but also apathy vs commitment and involvement: you notice all the wonderful people here at home who make this community hum.

My inbox was stuffed full of weeks of information about what you’re all doing to conserve our natural environment and the wildlife that call it home; to encourage young people to learn about the wild spaces of the Okanagan; and to educate people about it.

Volunteers are generally quiet as they go about their work behind the scenes, but without their efforts, this valley would be an entirely different place.

Not only do they organize events to raise funds for habitat conservation, as groups like the Oceola Fish and Game Club and the Peachland Sportsman’s Association have in the past month or so; they also get out on the ground and pull invasive weeds, clean up in and around water bodies, restore damaged and altered habitat so it can again sustain fish and wildlife; and organize events where people can learn about our natural environment and its fish and wildlife resources.

It’s really pretty impressive.

There’s even a group meeting to ensure that young people in this community don’t suffer Nature Deficit Disorder from a lack of interaction with the wild.

As our cities grow, our natural areas are diminished, and so do our opportunities for young people to get outside and experience the call of the loon and the woodpecker, the smell of pine resin and sagebrush, the taste of wild berries and herbs, the sight of water rushing over smooth stones or lapping the lakeshore and fields of wildflowers or wildlife.

So, congratulations and thanks to those involved in fund-raising, including those who attend and offer up their cash to a good cause as well as those who donate goods to help raise money, including at this weekend’s 20th annual general meeting of the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. being held at the Grand.

It will include some knowledgeable speakers about how Okanagan wild sheep herds are managing; re-location programs; how to tell the age of an animal by its horns; hunting, skinning and caping the animals; backpacking and special gear and the business of the association.

Recent society projects include wild sheep counts in several areas, helping to fund sheep transplants and habitat enhancement.

Last weekend, a group of volunteers from the Oceola club organized a youth ice fishing event at Beaver Lake Resort to get local young people connected to the outdoors in winter.

Volunteer Danny Coyne reports that club members showed youngsters the basics of ice fishing, and most landed a fish, with much excitement.

They also enjoyed lunch and games and learned much about teamwork and being a sportsmen, with lots of laughter and family fun, Danny said.

There are many other local groups with invaluable rosters of hard workers. For instance, the Friends of the South Slopes’ volunteers logged 1,206 hours last year doing trail maintenance and development, and doing mapping and planning.

Consider doing your bit for the local environment by joining one of the many organizations and volunteer a few hours or a few weeks to help keep our little corner of nature worth knowing.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.





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