Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail volunteered many hours to ensure survival of newly placed native plants

Trail plants survive heat

Not even an historically hot summer could stop these volunteers.

Throughout the summer, a dedicated group of Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail Stewards volunteered many hours to ensure the survival of newly placed native plants.

In November 2020, native landscaping was completed at the ORT Trailhead - the KM0 marker site - with 23 species of plants.

More than 500 plants were put in the ground, all with temporary irrigation.

To keep the plants alive, volunteers like Paddy Juniper regularly filled a gator bag, a slow-release watering bag that slowly drips water around the base of the tree over several days and needs to be refilled every five to seven days.

“Grassland restoration is one of the most difficult ecosystems to successfully restore, this site is one of the most successful restoration projects I have seen. The native plants are doing very well thanks to the volunteers who weeded and watered through the extreme weather conditions this season,” said Carrie Nadeau, senior ecologist with Associated Environmental in Vernon.

The native grassland ecosystem will provide the backdrop for Phase 2 of the Northern Gateway, which will feature a gathering place where trail users will find a place to rest and relax. There will also be kiosks to provide guidance and inspiration for the journey on the trail.

Interpretive signage developed in collaboration with Okanagan Indian Band and Vernon Museum will tell the story of the area.

Donors contributed thousands of dollars to the project, and with the summer matching challenge by Priscilla and Company, Re/Max and KPMG, the fundraising campaign has reached half of the $100,000 goal.

For more information and to donate, visit the FORT website.

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