Volunteer Opportunity

The Southern Interior Land Trust is interested in welcoming new additions to its board of directors.

If you are passionate about conserving land for wildlife in the Southern Interior of B.C., consider sending some information about your interest and what you would bring to the board in an e-mail to secretary-treasurer Gord Wilson.

The board is especially interested in adding particular skill sets to the makeup of the team, so if you have a legal mind, skills in fund-raising, promotion, grant-writing, accounting, use of social media, land appraisal or real estate, ecology or biology, construction, selling or marketing or environmental restoration, SILT would like to hear from you.

You might find yourself exploring new properties to determine their importance for conservation; working on the ground on restoration projects; raising the profile of SILT, or funds to purchase properties with important natural features; or preparing grant applications to ensure another gem of wildlife habitat can be conserved in its natural state.
You’d be a volunteer, and it’s work, but it’s satisfying work.

To learn more about SILT, browse the website. If you have questions, send an e-mail to office@siltrust.ca

Judie Steeves appointed president of the Southern Interior Land Trust

With two new properties and a third on the way, the Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) is expanding its land holdings and raising its profile throughout BC’s southern interior. “Our trust sees a need to strategically acquire and protect stepping-stones of habitat that allow wildlife to move through developed areas” said incoming president Judie Steeves. “Loss of travel routes and secure feeding areas prevent wildlife from adapting to the uncertain effects of climate change—we need to fill those gaps.”
Steeves grew up in the Okanagan and is a well-known writer, outdoors enthusiast and conservation volunteer. She replaces past-president Ross Everatt, who recently retired from the SILT Board. “Ross led SILT with distinction for many years” said Steeves, “the care and attention he provided to SILT, its properties and mission is much appreciated.”

SILT is actively recruiting new volunteer Board members. “We are pleased that Kasey Moran, a former director and UBC doctoral student has returned to our board”, added Steeves, “Kasey is young, energetic and caring of our environment. She is part of the future, and upcoming generations of conservationists.” If you have a passion for wildlife and want to contribute your special skills and experience to our board, please contact Executive Director Al Peatt at office@siltrust.ca.

SILT is seeking donations to acquire another 86 acres of good-quality habitat for bighorn sheep, deer, and species-at-risk including rattlesnake, gopher snake, American racer, spadefoot toad and tiger salamander. Lot A DL 493 is just two kilometres east of Grand Forks. “The Grand Forks area is a too-often-overlooked jewel of biodiversity. It’s been a SILT priority for conservation for decades”, said Peatt.

Acquiring land for wildlife is crucial but owning it is not enough. SILT thanks the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for its recent contribution to maintain and manage SILT’s R.E. Taylor Conservation Property near Olalla. SILT will undertake physical works there to improve public access starting in October, after the birds have nested and the reptiles and amphibians are less active.

Ron Taylor Receives Parliamentary Award


SILT Director, Ron Taylor (left) was presented with a Parliamentary Award by Kelowna-Lake Country MP, Tracey Gray and Oceola Fish & Game Club President, Nick Kozub.

The Award was presented to Ron at Oceola’s 61st annual banquet, in recognition of his many contributions through volunteering in multiple not-for-profit organizations and his endless efforts towards conservation and habitat restoration throughout the province.

Congratulation Ron!

Conservation Property Dedicated to Lifetime Conservationist Ron Taylor

The Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) recently added a fifth property to its conservation holdings—a gem of intact streamside water birch habitat on the banks of Keremeos Creek near Olalla.

On Saturday, September 28th, SILT dedicated it the “R.E. Taylor Conservation Property” to honour Ron Taylor of Winfield, BC, in recognition of Ron’s life-long commitment to wildlife conservation. A career teacher and avid outdoorsman, Ron has influenced and mentored hundreds of young and old hunters, fishers, trappers, biologists and conservationists. Ron, through his strong conservation ethic, has always spoken on behalf of fish and wildlife and for the wise use of wild spaces.

Ron helped to create SILT, a non-profit land trust, and has served on its Board of Directors since the society was formed in 1988. He has been an active member of the Oceola Fish and Game Club for decades and has also served on its executive and that of the BC Wildlife Federation. Ron spent years advocating for a balance of natural resource use and protection at the Okanagan-Shuswap Land and Resource Management planning table. He has also served for several years on the Board of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. Ron’s willingness to share his time and knowledge to so many fish and wildlife related endeavours has had positive and lasting impacts on natural resource management in BC.

Situated on flat valley bottomland, the R.E. Taylor Conservation Property provides habitat for at least six federally listed species at risk including yellow-breasted chat, western screech owl, Lewis’s woodpecker, barn owl, badger and common nighthawk. Deer, bear, moose, bobcat and other wildlife also use the property and rainbow trout and other fish live in the creek.

SILT works to keep its properties open to all types of wildlife-related recreation. SILT believes that doing so rewards the people that contribute to habitat conservation. Partial funding to purchase the R.E. Taylor Conservation Property came from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. SILT appreciates the hunters, trappers, guides and anglers that support the foundation through their licence fees, and SILT’s other donors that help make our habitat acquisitions possible—for all living things

RE Taylor

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Ginty’s Pond: Wetlandkeepers Course – Report

by Kasey Moran…

Event Overview

Wetlandkeepers Courses are delivered by BCWF and cover a standard set of skills related to wetland classification, plant identification, and soil analyses. For more information, see their website:

https://bcwf.bc.ca/wetlandkeepers-courses/

In addition to the standard Wetlandkeepers Course content, this event involved an in-depth community-based conversation about Ginty’s Pond. Many Cawston (and area) residents recounted memories of the pond when it would have been classified as a shallow open-water wetland, rather than the cattail marsh that exists today. Some community members expressed a concern for the pond’s current appearance, and expressed a desire to restore it to its former state to facilitate recreational uses like ice skating and boating. SILT’s executive director, Al Peatt, expressed his understanding that a 7:3 ratio of open water to emergent vegetation would optimize habitat value for wildlife.

Read the Full Report Here

Vulcan Consulting Supports SILT Mandate

Peter Nazaroff

Pictured above is Peter Nazaroff from Vulcan Consulting presenting a cheque for $2,000 to SILT President, Ross Everatt.

Mr. Nazaroff wanted to support SILT’s efforts to protect and secure conservation lands and also appreciated the fact that SILT’s Board of Directors are 100% volunteer.

SILT Meadowlark Festival – Cold Creek Property Tour Sold Out

SILT hosted a sold out walk and talk tour of its Cold Creek conservation property near Keremeos on May 18th. The tour, in support of the Meadowlark Nature Festival, attracted 20 participants of all ages. SILT President Ross Everatt, outdoors writer Judie Steeves, cottonwood expert Kasey Moran and wildlife biologist Al Peatt led the tour of SILT’s 20-hectare Cold Creek property where over 200 plant and animal species occur. The Cold Creek property is a wildlife corridor that fronts the Similkameen River and extends from an intact cottonwood stand through dry shrub-steppe to steep cliffs, and includes a spring-fed year-round stream.

SILT appreciates and thanks the Meadowlark Nature Festival and everyone who came out with us to Cold Creek; we made new friends, had many engaging conversations and enjoyed a great walk.

You can help SILT conserve other gems of habitat for all living things through your donation of cash or land by clicking on this link.

Tour Group 1

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Photos – courtesy Judie Steeves

Ensuring Species Survival

“Without LightHawk’s help…” is a universal response we receive from passengers, and a description of incredible conservation outcomes that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

This fall, LightHawk partnered with the Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT), a Canadian nonprofit that works to acquire fish and wildlife habitats for habitat connectivity in British Columbia. SILT facilitates research on how lynx and bobcats move across landscapes straddling the Canada and the US border. In Washington, lynx are state-listed as endangered, while in British Columbia, they’re commercially harvested for fur. Collecting lynx and bobcat movement data is critical to improving how the cats are managed on both sides of the border, and to prioritize migration corridors to help lynx populations recover in Washington. Bobcats share summer habitat with lynx, and knowing how lynx interact with bobcats will help managers in both countries protect habitat effectively for both species.

Quickly collecting the collars and the precious movement data they contain is paramount— if winter hits before the collars are located the batteries would die and the data would be lost.

OUTCOME: With Volunteer Pilot Dave Riffle’s expert aerial backcountry navigating skills, SILT was able to pinpoint the collar locations, two of which would have likely never have been recovered otherwise due to their remote location.

Without LightHawk, our partners would have to track down the cats’ radio collars on foot and snowmobile over rugged terrain, an extremely difficult, time consuming and potentially dangerous job.

“It is very gratifying to feel that I am making a difference right here, right now.”

LightHawk’s Volunteer Pilots bring incredible dedicaton to conservation. Making an impact “is the greatest reward of my work with LightHawk. When we are flying missions, it is very gratifying to feel that I am making a difference right here, right now,” writes lynx mission pilot, Dave Riffle, who joined LightHawk in 2017. His dedication goes beyond flight. “SILT Executive Director, Al Peatt, and I became good friends after our LightHawk mission. He extended an invitation following the flight to join the effort to live trap, tranquilize and collar new lynx during the winter. i joined SILT’s team to ride out in a snowmobile for the daily “trap” check. Helping to collar a lynx, to feel the warmth of its fur despite the -5ºF temps, gave me a new perspective on the importance of protecting habitat and wildlife migration corridors between our two countries,” said Riffle.

SILT wishes to thank Lighthawk for their incredible contribution to this successful project. Read Lighthawk’s full Annual Report. Their work towards conservation is incredible.

Love Your Lake Comes to British Columbia

LYL

Free Shoreline Assessment Program “Love Your Lake” is coming to the Okanagan this year!

The Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) has, for over 30 years, worked in the southern interior of British Columbia to protect and preserve habitat for all living things. Natural lake shorelines, with their ribbon of native plants benefit wildlife and animal movement; protect properties from flood and erosion; and support ecological processes essential to clean, drinkable, swimmable, fishable water. Purchasing lakeshore for conservation is prohibitively expensive, so SILT is exploring other ways to spark widespread voluntary care of lakeshores to benefit all living things, including people.

SILT has partnered with Watersheds Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation to pilot the highly successful Love Your Lake (LYL) program for the first time in British Columbia, at Vaseux Lake and along the shore of Okanagan Lake in the District of Summerland. The LYL project will provide lakeshore landowners with a free, personalized and private evaluation of their shoreline, with specific actions for how to voluntarily protect and re-vitalize the shoreline to improve lake health while still maintaining their waterfront view.

Shoreline property owners will receive information about the program including an introductory letter and a values survey. Shorelines will be assessed by boat on a property-by-property basis by trained people using a standardized protocol and datasheet. Following the assessments, each shoreline property owner will receive another letter, typically in the spring, with a personal online access code needed to download their free report. The report will contain information about the state of their unique shoreline and suggestions of voluntary actions they can take, specifically tailored to their shoreline, to improve the health of their shoreline. Lake organizations and project partners will receive a lake summary report which generalizes the data over the entire assessed area and identifies community stewardship opportunities applicable to the entire lake shoreline.

All information contained in the individual shoreline property reports and lake summary reports is non-regulatory. All organizations involved in the LYL program take privacy issues very seriously.

This year, SILT will also be supporting the creation of up to three public shoreline restoration demonstration sites in various areas where landowners and others can see how lakeshore restoration works. SILT and the LYL program hope that both aspects of the project will continue in future years on other lakes. Funding and in-kind support for the LYL project has been provided by the South Okanagan Conservation Fund, the LYL Program, SILT, local government and other contributors.

Here is the link to the Love Your Lake program: www.LoveYourLake.ca

Meadowlark Nature Festival

Tour 37 – Southern Interior Land Trust – Cold Creek Property Tour – Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Tickets: Adult $30.00/ticket Children $5.00/ticket

Join Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) President Ross Everatt, wildlife biologist Al Peatt, outdoors enthusiast and writer Judie Steeves, and cottonwood expert Kasey Moran for a walk and talk tour of SILT’s 20-hectare Cold Creek property near Keremeos. Over 200 plant and animal species occur here and the views of the river and surrounding mountains are spectacular. The property fronts the Similkameen River and extends from an intact cottonwood stand through dry shrub-steppe to steep cliffs, and includes a spring-fed year-round stream! The property has habitat for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, deer, bobcat, beaver, rattlesnake, woodpecker, butterflies and peregrine falcon. We’ll explore the diversity of ecosystems and wild life, learn about the private life of cottonwoods and why they are important to people too, and how conserving gems of habitat such as Cold Creek will help all living things for generations to come. Bring binoculars if desired. NOTE: Cold Creek is a gem of near-natural Similkameen wildlife habitat. There is cactus, poison ivy, unfenced riverfront, and the possibility of encountering rattlesnake at this property. This tour is brought to you in partnership with Southern Interior Land Trust.

Meeting Place: Either of two locations. Meet at 8:45 am at the Walmart Penticton parking lot near the auto repair area, and then rendezvous with remaining participants at 9:30 am at the Esso station parking lot in Keremeos located at the intersection of Hwy 3 and Hwy 3a.

Transportation will be via carpool.

For more information and to purchase tickets for this event click on this link to the Meadowlark Festival