Regional Parks Services News:
Final Park Management Plan Comment Opportunity
September 22nd is the deadline for final comments from the public on a draft long-term Management Plan for the Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.
The draft Plan is the result of a thorough public process that began earlier this year and can be viewed at: www.regionaldistrict.com/parksmanagementplans. Email comments may also be provided on the Park Management Plan webpage until September 22nd.
It’s anticipated the final Draft Management Plan will be presented for consideration by the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) and Regional Board this fall. The Plan sets out clear direction for wildlife and habitat conservation, passive recreational and educational activities, as well as guiding future actions and investments for the protection of the park.
Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park encompasses over 400 hectares along the south slopes within the Regional District and includes land from the former Cedar Mountain Regional Park. It was created in 2013 through a partnership between the Central Okanagan Land Trust and the Regional District, after COLT was bequeathed 300-hectares of land from the estates of Nancy and Alf Johns.
Swimming Advisory Lifted
Swimming Advisory signs posted last month at two park beaches on Wood Lake have been taken down.
The precautionary advisory affecting the Regional District’s Reiswig Regional Park and the neighbouring District of Lake Country Beasley Park took effect August 13th as a result of samples that indicated poor water quality due to increased levels of bacteria.
Regional District Communications Officer Bruce Smith says “Interior Health has now indicated that recent test samples show water quality has again returned to acceptable, safe levels under the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality. That means the advisory has been lifted and people can once again swim at these beaches.”
For more information please visit Interior Health’s Recreational Water program webpage:
New Goat's Peak Regional Park
The protection of a sizable portion of environmentally important Okanagan Lake waterfront is ensured with creation of Goat’s Peak Regional Park.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan purchased a 52-hectare (128-acre) property along the West Kelowna shoreline to establish the new regional Park. The property includes almost 900-meters (2,955-feet) of waterfront, which has extremely high spawning habitat value for Okanagan Lake kokanee salmon.
The $5-million purchase comes from contributions of local governments to the Regional Parks Legacy and Park Land Reserve Funds.
Regional Board Chair Robert Hobson says, “For many years, residents and various community groups have called on local governments to protect the important waterfront and upland ecosystem of the Goat’s Peak area. Today through the two Regional Park funds, on behalf of all Central Okanagan residents, I’m pleased to announce that we’re delivering with the creation of Goat’s Peak Regional Park saving this land for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Hobson adds, “The purchase of this property for the new regional park fills a significant gap in the Okanagan Trail 2000 vision for a continuous recreational trail between the Bennett Bridge and Peachland. It, along with the existing Kalamoir and Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Parks remain in their natural state which helps to preserve accessible areas along the Okanagan Lake shoreline for the enjoyment of all Central Okanagan residents.”
He says, “The new Goat’s Peak Regional Park is close to existing and potential residential areas and is critical to preserving the long term sustainability and character of the Okanagan Valley. It has high ecological conservation value and supports a low-impact recreational/interpretive potential in order to protect the natural landscape.”
The new park will remain closed until at least next summer as the Regional District prepares a management plan and develops trails and signage.
In 2008, the Regional Board unanimously agreed to establish a special tax requisition over five years to build the Parks Legacy Fund in order to leverage the purchase and protection of important properties for the Regional Park system. Hobson adds, “With today’s announcement, $14.2-million in property purchases have been funded, adding more than 91-hectares (225-acres) to the Regional Park system.
2014 is the 40th anniversary of the Central Okanagan Regional Park system. Since it began in the fall of 1974 and with the purchase of the almost four-hectare Kaloya Regional Park in Lake Country in early 1975, it’s grown to protect more than 1,400-hectares of land in 30 Regional Parks.
Kokanee Exhibit at the EECO
The land locked Kokanee salmon are making their annual spawning run along the many tributaries of Okanagan Lake or along the lake shore itself. During the late summer and fall, local streams will be full of the red, fresh water cousins of the Sockeye.
Now through early-October, you’re invited to learn more about this interesting and important fish to the Okanagan at the ‘Kokanee’ exhibit in the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan or EECO. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin Roads.
For more information on this and other EECO programs, check out ‘Your Guide to Regional Parks’, visit the Regional District website (regionaldistrict.com/parksevents) or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.
Kokanee Interpretation Programs
You’re invited to witness an annual rite of nature while learning more about the life of the Kokanee salmon.
Check out the Regional Parks ‘Kokanee Spawning Interpretive Program’ weekends in Mission Creek Regional Park off Springfield Road and Hardy Falls Regional Parkin Peachland.
A Parks Interpreter will be on site each weekend until Sunday, September 28th at Hardy Falls Regional Park (off Highway 97 south at Hardy Street in Peachland). The interpretation program runs each Saturday and Sunday until October 5th at Mission Creek Regional Park. Interpreters will be on site from 12 noon to 4:00 pm at each location. Weekday school tours and special presentations for community groups start September 2nd and may be booked by donation through the EECO (Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan).
For more information on this and other EECO and Regional Parks programs visit the Regional District website regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.
Lower Glen Canyon Regional Park Closure
The lower portion of Glen Canyon Regional Park off Gellatly Road in West Kelowna will be closed starting September 2nd for up to eight weeks for trail upgrades. (See map)
The trails between Gellatly Road and the new bridge span upstream will remain closed until approximately the end of October. Please obey any signage and barricades directing visitors around the closed area. Other areas of the park will still be open and accessible, including the loop trail that links with the District of West Kelowna’s Westbank Centre Park, just off May Street.
Much of this work is being funded as part of a grant through the Provincial Government’s Community Recreation Program Trails to Health project. In addition to trail improvements, information and signage, the work will see existing staircases and crib steps replaced and a new parking area established off Gellatly Road. As a part of this project and a recent parkland management agreement with the District of West Kelowna, the Regional District will upgrade trails through a portion of West Kelowna municipal parkland that will be maintained as a part of Glen Canyon Regional Park trail system.
The Regional District thanks park users for their patience and understanding while this park access enhancement work is done.
Raise Your Bear-Awareness
Part of the attractiveness of our Central Okanagan Regional Parks is that visitors experience wild, untouched, natural settings. That also means they may encounter wildlife at any time. And as summer draws to a close, visiting our more natural Regional Parks requires more bear awareness.
Across the Okanagan Kokanee salmon are starting to spawn and orchard crops are ripening. With that there’s increasing evidence of bear activity as they leave the higher elevations in search of food in the valley.
Evidence that bears are around is already occurring along the Mission Creek Greenway, in Mission Creek, Scenic Canyon and Hardy Falls Regional Parks. Each year, evidence of their presence is also often found in other more natural regional parks like Bertram Creek, Glen Canyon, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir, Mill Creek, Rose Valley and Woodhaven Nature Conservancy.
“Usually around this time of year, our parks staff and visitors start seeing more signs of bears in some of our Regional Parks. As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area” says Communications Officer Bruce Smith.
He says “to reduce your chance of an encounter, if possible travel in a group, make noise or carry something that makes noise. During the fall fish spawning season local creeks and rivers can be teaming with spawning salmon. As a result, visitors may encounter bears taking advantage of this plentiful food source. Bears fishing for food may not hear you over the noise of the creek water. If you see a bear, give it plenty of space and stay well away from it.”
People should respect all bears and anticipate and avoid encounters with them whenever possible. Bears can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or their cubs. They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and better sight than you might believe. Dog owners are reminded when in Regional Parks that their pets must be leashed and kept on trails at all times. It’s not only the law, but will help avoid any potentially serious wildlife encounter.
Residents also have a role to play in preventing animal confrontations on their property by keeping any garbage securely stored and wheeling their garbage cart out only on the morning of their regular curbside collection. That helps to reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife.
Useful Bear Links
British Columbia Conservation Foundation (WildSafe BC) Bear Aware program - www.bearaware.bc.ca
Ministry of Environment Bear Smart program - www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html
Fall Tracks Registration Underway
Register now for the free fall session of the popular ‘Tracks Walking Club’ at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park. There’s no cost to sign up and members receive a walking journal, walking tips, seminars and motivational tips that keep you moving. View Poster
The popular graduated walking program runs for six weeks starting September 8th and wraps up October 15th. Each Monday and Wednesday morning at 9:00 (no walk Thanksgiving Monday) club members will join our walking leader along the Mission Creek Greenway and in Mission Creek Regional Park. People at a beginner fitness level are encouraged to take part gradually increasing their health, stamina and walking duration to 60 minutes. The goal is for participants to join in on the Kokanee Run/Walk on Saturday, October 18th.
This program is recognized as a BC Heart and Stroke Foundation‘Hearts in Motion’ walking club.
For more information about this or other Regional Park programs please visit the Regional District website regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6149.
Upper Parking Lot Closure at Rose Valley Regional Park
Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, August 27th, the upper Westlake Road parking area at Rose Valley Regional Park will be closed until the end of September.
The closure is needed as Regional Parks staff removes and upgrades fencing and other amenities along with adjoining trails around the information kiosk area. During this time, park visitors are asked to stay out of the closed parking area as it will be used for storing supplies and equipment.
While the upper parking lot is closed, visitors are encouraged to use the newly upgraded parking lot and washroom facility at Westlake Road and Starlight Crescent.
This work is being funded through a grant from the Community Recreation Program Trails to Health project. Over the past year, this project has seen upgrading and development of approximately eight kilometers of trails in three large looped sections of Rose Valley Regional Park, the removal of hazard trees and the installation of six new lookouts and benches. In addition way-finding trail maps and markers have been installed and a new information kiosk and washroom were built at the lower parking area off Westlake Road and Starlight Crescent.
For more information about Regional Parks and programs visit the Regional District website regionaldistrict.com/parks.
Mussel Monitor at Boat Launch
A Regional District of Central Okanagan boat launch is part of a valley-wide network of monitoring stations for invasive mussels.
The monitor device is installed in Okanagan Lake at the Okanagan Centre Safe Harbour Regional Park boat launch that is maintained by the Regional District. The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) installed the monitoring station and checks it monthly through the fall along with taking a plankton tow sample of the water for any signs of Zebra and Quagga Mussels.
The monitoring station is made of a rope with a weight at one end and a series of small sections of PVC pipe and mesh. If the invasive mollusk species (which range in size from a grain of sand to thumbnail size) is present, it will attach to this artificial, solid surface. The monitor is intended to act as a warning device as this would be a likely location that any mussels would show up, being transported on or in boats and trailers.
The Society and the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s Okanagan WaterWise program are encouraging all owners of personal watercraft and boats to ‘Don’t Move a Mussel’ and check their vessels for signs of the invasive mussels, especially if they have been out of the province. By adopting the ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’ protocol residents and visiting boat owners can help protect BC lakes from these species, which have caused havoc and created a major economic cost in other jurisdictions because they rapidly colonize on hard surfaces, impacting tourism, recreation and infrastructure.
To learn more about OASISS visit www.oasiss.ca.
For information on the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s ‘Don’t Move a Mussel’ initiative and how you can help, visit www.dontmoveamussel.ca.
'Share the Trail'
It’s a 16.5-kilometer multi-use recreational corridor that certainly sees its share of people each day.
It’s estimated that more than a thousand people take to the Mission Creek Greenway Regional Park each day. A few may be on horseback, many more are on foot either running or walking and an increasing number of cyclists use the trail for both recreation and as an off-road commuting corridor.
“We see people using the Greenway in a variety of ways,” says Communications Officer Bruce Smith. “They may be getting their daily exercise, out for a relaxing stroll along the creek or simply getting from point A to B. Dog owners will have their pets on leash, while others are pushing strollers with infants. During the spring, summer and fall months there’s a huge increase in the number of people using the Greenway each day. As a result of all these various visitors and uses, sometimes there can be near-misses and periodic conflicts.”
Smith adds, “Our goal is to ensure everyone using the Greenway is aware that they have to ‘Share the Trail’ and should be aware of other users around them when they are on the recreational corridor.”
Parks Services Bylaw Enforcement Officer Blaise Laveay adds, “We’re out each day of the year patrolling sections of the Greenway and from May to September we have added staff making more frequent daily spot checks, watching for people who may not be aware of they are responsible for proper trail etiquette, in order to keep everyone safe.”
He says, “Along the Greenway, cyclists shouldn’t go faster than ten kilometers an hour and should keep to the right side of the trail, unless they are passing someone on foot. They should also give an indication that they are approaching from behind by ringing a bell, honking a horn or simply vocally acknowledging their passing to the left. So that everyone can share the Greenway, cyclists and pedestrians should yield to horse riders while cyclists should yield to pedestrians. Generally speaking, for their safety, everyone on the trail should be aware of those around them.
Under the Regional Parks Bylaw all dogs must be kept on leash and must stay on designated trails. Animal owners are reminded to pick up waste deposited along the trail. All residents should remember that unauthorized motorized vehicles are not allowed along the Greenway.
Fuel Modification Project Continues in Rose Valley
The third year of a staged fuel modification project is continuing in a section of Rose Valley Regional Park.
During the past two years, as crews have been available, the BC Wildfire Management Branch has been working in a portion of the park north of Bowes and Pettman Roads. Crews are brushing, thinning and removing fire hazard trees and ladder fuels as part of a multi-year fuel modification project on a ten hectare section in the north end of the park above Bear Creek Road. View Map
While BC Wildfire Management Branch crews are working in this area of Rose Valley Regional Park, visitors should be aware that some trails may be temporarily closed. For their safety and that of the workers, please stay out of any closed area.
Collected wood debris will be piled for disposal when open burning is allowed next fall and winter, on days when both air quality and venting conditions are favourable. This work has received approval by West Kelowna Fire Rescue and will be conducted in accordance with Regional District Air Quality and Open Burning regulations.
Prior to any decision to proceed with burning on a particular day, local fire authorities and media will be advised.
For more information visit the Regional District Parks Services webpage regionaldistrict.com/parks, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-469-6232.
Parks for All Seasons
Here's a new short video that shows some of our regional parks at every time of year!
Greenway Closed at Lakeshore
From Tuesday, May 20th to approximately November, you won’t be able to use the Mission Creek Greenway Regional Park access at Lakeshore Road.
That area will be completely closed while the City of Kelowna replaces the bridge over Mission Creek as part of the Lakeshore Road upgrade project.
Signs will be posted at key access points along the Mission Creek Greenway multi-use trail, advising that trail users cannot access the Lakeshore Road trailhead area while the bridge construction is underway. A turn-around will be in place on the north side of Mission Creek at the Lakeshore Road construction site.
A number of alternate trailhead and parking locations are available during the construction closure. People can still access the Mission Creek Greenway and parking areas at the Mission Sportsfields, KLO Road, Casorso Road, Mission Creek Regional Park (Springfield and Durnin Roads and at the end of Ziprick Road) and the Hollywood Road south entrance to Scenic Canyon Regional Park.
When the bridge replacement and road project is complete, an underpass will provide safe access to the popular regional Greenway recreational trail.
For information regarding Mission Creek Greenway Regional Park visit regionaldistrict.com. For information regarding road closures, project information and potential delays visit kelowna.ca/roadreport