South Okanagan  

The nature of our future

To ensure creatures ranging from badgers to burrowing owls and bighorn sheep are around for future generations to enjoy a new strategy is being considered.

Titled Keeping Nature in Our Future, it is a huge effort addressing conservation issues and management approaches in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Initiated in 2009 by the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, the results of years of planning are now being introduced to residents. On Monday, people in Naramata joined the discussion.

“In the valley bottom where human activity is we are losing grasslands, wetlands and riparian areas at a fairly rapid rate,” said program manager Bryn White. “So what the strategy does is identify all kinds of wildlife species  that are listed as being at risk, so we are being proactive.”

Among those involved are the RDOS, government ministries, First Nations organizations, nonprofits and others  working together to conserve biodiversity, essentially everything thought of as nature.

The reason to take action now is the region is home to some of the greatest concentrations of  species at risk in Canada, according to White.

She told the crowd Monday night that the biodiversity hotspots include rural Osoyoos, Cawston, rural Oliver, Okanagan Falls and the municipalities of Osoyoos and Oliver.

In Naramata, challenges include providing wildlife corridors north to south on the east side of the  Lake. Small streams running east to west are also particularly important for corridors.

To deal with the situation, the strategy looks at establishing new or updating existing land use policies and regulation to ensure that development processes integrate biodiversity conservation considerations and building on the existing network of parks, protected areas and greenways to strengthen natural area conservation.

At the Naramata meeting held at the Old Age Pensioners Hall,  residents expressed concerns about deer fences and the dividing of large farm properties into much smaller ones.

Resident Philip McDouall said he was a newcomer to the area who was interested in all things natural.

“We have to find a balance between nature and human occupancy, because we are forever taking away wildlife habitats,” he said.

Public meetings will continue to be held in South Okanagan towns in the days ahead.

Feedback from the community consultations will be provided to local governments as part of their review and decision making process.

Upcoming presentations will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Oliver Community Center on Feb. 19.
  • Okanagan Regional Library Building in Princeton on March 4.
  • Keremeos Victory Hall on March 6.
  • RDOS board room in Penticton on March 7
  • Sonora Centre in Osoyoos on March 11.

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