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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
The Southern Interior Land Trust has added two new board members in the past few months.
Timothy Broesch is a financial advisor with Edward Jones and lives in Okanagan Falls with his wife and four children.
He loves hunting, fishing, hiking and enjoying the outdoors with his family. He learned as a youngster living on a small ranch in Eastern Washington the importance of looking after our natural resources for the health of both people and animals.
“If you want healthy animals and a productive garden you must take care of them. That means keeping water clean, preventing over-grazing, regular removal of invasive species, as well as considering the needs of the wildlife on our land,” he comments.
He is hopeful when his children are grandparents that they will still have the option of enjoying outdoor recreational activities as they do now.
Without protected areas for wildlife, he believes we all stand to lose.
Kasey Moran is a PhD candidate in John Richardson’s Stream and Riparian Areas Research Lab with the Forest and Conservation Sciences department of UBC Vancouver. Her research is focussed on rivers and cottonwood forests in the Similkameen, with an emphasis on the ecological effects of river engineering and prospects for restoration.
She has done thesis work around aquatic invertebrate responses to surface and groundwater interactions in streams. She has worked as an ecosystem technician for Canadian Wildlife Service and as a laboratory technician for an evolutionary genomics lab at UBC.
She also has a background in fine arts: her paintings have been exhibited at a small number of galleries in Penticton and Vancouver, and she has produced illustrations for scientific journals, teaching manuals, posters, and brochures.
For more than a decade she lived in the Penticton, Okanagan Falls and Twin Lakes areas and she still has connections to family and community there.
“I’m excited to take an active role in conserving wildlife habitat as a SILT board member,” she comments.
A radio-collared bobcat awaits its release back into the wild. The radio collar records the cat’s location, which provides valuable data on how it moves through the landscape. Arthur Scully, PhD candidate, Trent University Center
Cats never follow the rules, and neither do their wildcat cousins! The border between Canada and the US doesn’t stop a lynx or bobcat, but it can mean life or death for these wild predators. In Washington, lynx are state-listed as endangered, while in British Columbia, they’re commercially harvested for fur. LightHawk flew internationally to help Southern Interior Land Trust scientists collect data on how lynx and bobcat move across the landscape. Knowing this is critical to improve how the cats are managed on both sides of the border, and to prioritize migration corridors for protection.
Volunteer Pilot David Riffle helped the team track the cats from the air, and find radio collars that had dropped off the lynx and bobcats. The collars contain all the cats’ movement data, and without LightHawk’s help, two of the located collars would likely never be recovered due to their remote location. Aerial expediency was key — if winter hit before the collars were located, the batteries would have died and the data would have been lost.Thanks to your generosity, we’re helping wildcats and scientists on both sides of the border!
RICHARD (RICK) LARKE SIMPSON…..12/4/1944 – 02/2/2019
After nearly a decade on the board of the Southern Interior Land Trust, most recently as vice-president, avid conservationist Rick Simpson of Kelowna passed away Feb. 2 of cancer.
For health reasons, he had resigned from the board last year.
Rick had a particular interest in conservation of habitat for fish and had devoted his spare time and his energy for more than four decades in various areas of the province, and provincially, to helping to improve survival rates for spawning salmon and kokanee.
At the same time, he focussed on mentoring and educating young people so there would be passionate new anglers to appreciate the natural world and work to follow in his footsteps.
He also volunteered with fish and game clubs, the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Fishing Forever, the regional environmental advisory commission, and was on the Okanagan Salmon Community Initiative, part of an Okanagan Nation Alliance project to re-introduce salmon to the Okanagan. He was outspoken on environmental issues in his community.
Networking and promoting collaboration between different sectors of a community was a mantra of his, and he involved all sectors of the community, from industry to civic authorities to volunteers and the general public in habitat conservation causes.
Rick will be greatly missed, and the board and members of the Southern Interior Land Trust express our sadness and condolences to the Simpson family. He is survived by his partner of over 15 years Gael Russell, his son Richard Kemp Simpson, his daughter Kelly Suzanne Simpson, the mother of his children Grace Bartel, his brother Jeffery Simpson and his sister Victoria Nuttall.
The Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) has purchased 4.9 hectares (12 acres) of seasonally-flooded mature water birch forest, on the banks of Keremeos Creek near Olalla, between Penticton and Keremeos.
The property is a gem of intact streamside Water Birch forest, one of very few remaining in the Okanagan-Similkameen. It provides habitat for at least five federally-listed species at risk, including the Yellow-breasted Chat, Western Screech Owl and Lewis’s Woodpecker. It is also good habitat for deer, bear, bobcat and badger that travel across the valley, and for rainbow trout in the creek.
The property will be known as the R.E. Taylor Conservation Property, in honour of Ron Taylor of Winfield, BC, whose dedication and commitment to wildlife conservation in BC has spanned more than half a century. Ron helped to create SILT over 30 years ago, served as its President for many years, and has been on the Board of Directors since the society was formed in 1988.
SILT is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit charity dedicated to conserving land for all living things. SILT works to acquire those gems and jewels of wildlife habitat that act as “stepping-stones” for animal movement through developed areas.
SILT believes that maintaining public access to its conservation lands rewards and further engages the people that support and benefit from habitat conservation. SILT thanks everyone who donates to support SILT’s work. SILT also recognizes the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) and the hunters, trappers, guides and anglers that contribute to the HCTF through their licence fees, for making a significant financial contribution to the R.E. Taylor Conservation Property purchase.
“The HCTF is very pleased to contribute to the purchase of this property to protect some very rare undisturbed valley bottom habitat in the Okanagan,” says HCTF CEO Brian Springinotic. Though the Foundation was not aware of SILT’s plan to name the property after Ron Taylor when it decided to support the project, Springinotic says it’s a fitting tribute. “Naming this property after Ron is a fantastic way to recognize his many contributions to conservation in BC, including past participation on the HCTF Board of Directors.”
Learn more and donate to support SILT at: www.siltrust.ca. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of cash, land or bequests.
Direct questions and logo requests to Al Peatt, SILT Executive Director, at: 250-328-4699; or firstname.lastname@example.org