OUR MISSION; to protect land for wildlife and parks so biodiversity and natural features are preserved for future generations.
Message from the President
The Central Okanagan Land Trust—established by the Central Okanagan Foundation to preserve natural habitats—is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Over that quarter century, there have been many achievements we can celebrate, including conservation of the Rose Valley Pond and a portion of Roberts Lake and most recently the 800-acre Johns family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.
We also celebrate the great partners who have been essential in protecting and maintaining these natural features, particularly the Central Okanagan Regional District, but also the City of Kelowna, other governments and agencies and fellow non-government organizations.
Along the way, we celebrate the many individuals and families who have generously donated or set up endowment funds to ensure the work of the land trust can continue into the future, including the Johns Family, the Hobson Family, the Thomson Family, the Pritchard Family, the Scott Family, the Bootle Family, the Pettmans and Mabees, Harvey and Ruth Whitson, Dick and Jean Hall, Margaret Lunam and others.
In the near future, COLT is involved with the City of Kelowna Parks Department to rehabilitate and preserve Munson Pond and we are working behind the scenes to conserve other valuable natural features identified by property-owners, the public or board members.
We are eager to hear from you with suggestions for future initiatives and grateful for all donations, large or small, that allow our conservation work to continue.
Kurt Zander, President
Message from the Executive Director
Since our first Newsletter in the Spring of 2014, a lot has happened. You will read in this issue how your Board members and others have been hard at work preserving the unique habitats and strengthening the biodiversity in our Central Okanagan region.
From fund-raisers and attendance at the Kokanee Festival to project development (ie. Munson Pond) and grant writing, COLT has worked with many community groups to move our collective environmental mandates forward. Funding from the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Alpine Club of Canada, we trust, reflect these groups' faith that COLT is on track to do good work across our region - work for a better life for us all through responsible stewardship of the landscapes, habitats and wildlife amongst us.
One of the most significant events of this past year was establishment of a Named Endowment Fund by the Hobson family in support of COLT. As with our collaborators in this work (ie. CONC, FOSS, FOMC etc.), it is clear that we also need funds to carry on the work of caring for the environment in this fragile semi-arid part of the province.
We have agreed, through Conservation Covenants or land acquisition, to care for these lands 'in perpetuity'. Some of that commitment involves physical volunteer labour—from invasive weed removal to trail maintenance. Equally-important is the need for money to carry out that commitment.
In practice, the phrase 'in perpetuity' is a two-part equation. The first is securing the environmental features of the land. The second is ensuring we have the financial resources to maintain those environmental values. Establishment of the new Hobson Family Endowment Fund helps COLT move in that direction in a significant way—and we are so thankful for that demonstration of support.
As COLT moves into its second quarter century, we will be looking at how we can reliably maintain the 'in perpetuity' side of our work by strengthening our endowment holdings with the Central Okanagan Foundation. As many of you know, the COF itself established COLT as a way of 'managing non-revenue-generating assets' (like parkland and wildlife habitat). In reality, that work cannot go forward in viable ways without financial resources, so we would like to encourage everyone to consider supporting COLT.
Finally, thank you all so much for helping us reach our 25th Anniversary. We look forward to doing even more to support our unique and fragile Okanagan biodiversity for the next 25 years and beyond!
Wayne Wilson, Executive Director
Another COLT Director Nominated for Award
Barry Jones, past-president of the Central Okanagan Land Trust, was nominated for the 2014 Champion for the Environment award at the Kelowna Civic Awards, by the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club.
He not only served as COLT president for seven years, but also served on the regional district’s Environmental Advisory Commission for six years.
In nominating Jones, CONC president Craig Lewis wrote that he has spent countless hours on community service supporting the region’s natural environment, from conducting assessments and inspections to doing site visits of potential conservation properties, and lobbying for preservation of natural features.
Fellow board member Judie Steeves received the Champion of the Environment award the previous year for her volunteer efforts for the land trust, as well as her work as a director of the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund Society; her writing on environmental issues, particularly air and water quality and conservation topics; for the Trail Mix outdoor column she wrote for 20 years; and volunteer work as a founding director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association, and as a director of the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association, where she has headed up a number of habitat restoration projects.
Lebanon Creek Trail
One important access point for visitors on foot entering the new Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park will be a linear trail tracing the route of Lebanon Creek into the new regional park, which is 800 acres of diverse natural features owned by the Central Okanagan Land Trust. In 2014, the Central Okanagan Regional District (CORD) approved a Management Plan for development of the new parkland off Chute Lake Road. Grant funding for construction of that trail and related services has been received from the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia for $61,000 to match the regional district’s allocation of $69,000.
That will allow construction of one section of the trail that will follow the creek upstream to the Johns park itself. A second section of the trail will cross the Johns Park roughly east-west and link it to trails that will eventually provide access to Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park to the south of the Johns park. As well, COLT received $5000 from the Environment Fund administered by the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) for construction of washroom facilities to be located near the park entrance and parking lot, off Chute Lake Road. There is already a need for waste management in the new park, and with improved trail access along Lebanon Creek, those pressures will become even more acute. COLT is pleased with the support from the Alpine Club of Canada, and will be working closely with its local branch to raise the additional $5000 required to complete the washroom project by this fall.
'Land Trusts operate best when the community partnerships are strong,' commented COLT President, Kurt Zander. 'We are thankful to have the Alpine Club of Canada and its local members join us in work that will help protect our fragile Okanagan habitat and biodiversity, while allowing access to the public.' CORD is not eligible to apply for the ACC’s Environment Fund. However, but as the owner of the new park land through the Johns family bequest, COLT can apply for the funding in support of this important initiative. Both trail and washroom elements of the project should be completed by the fall of 2015.
If you would like more information about the Central Okanagan Land Trust, opportunities to work with COLT to participate in conserving wild land; its mandate and other projects, visit the website at www.coltrust.ca
Legacy Parks—Legacy People: 2014 Fundraiser
By Judie Steeves
There was chatter about birds and beasts, wetlands and grasslands amongst the clinking of glasses as people from all over the Central Okanagan gathered last October to support conservation of wild places through the Central Okanagan Land Trust.
It was the first fund-raiser held by the trust—an organization that has had a pretty low profile until the past couple of years—but it was a pre-cursor to this year’s 25th anniversary celebration, set for Oct. 17.
Last year’s very successful event, called Legacy Parks—Legacy People, honoured former regional district chair (and a former COLT board member) Robert Hobson for his 26 years of service on Kelowna council, championing the environment.
It also celebrated the regional district’s parks department’s 40 years growing parks for people in 2014.
The Hobson family opened a new endowment fund for COLT to be held in trust by the Central Okanagan Foundation, with a donation of $50,000, which drew matching funding from a variety of local organizations and individuals at the event.
Included in those contributions was a $5,000 donation from the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club, as well as $1,000 from former COLT Director Gwynneth Wilson, also a long-time CONC member; and $1,000 from current board Director and fellow CONC member Hugh Westheuser and his wife Pat; and $250 from the Mulvihill family.
At the event, Colin Pritchard and his family foundation also donated $5,000 to the COLT, to go to a particular project underway in the community this year.
It’s starting off to be another busy year for the local land trust, which has been working with the City of Kelowna on creating a park around Munson Pond, preserving its unusual aquatic and riparian habitat and allowing limited access to the public to enjoy its peaceful, but busy natural world.
Work has begun to prepare portions of the new Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park for public access, while carrying out other aspects of the management plan completed last year.
The COLT owns more than 800 acres of the central Okanagan’s natural features, much of which is enjoyed as parkland, including the new Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park and the Benvoulin Woods on the Mission Creek Greenway.
It also holds protective covenants on a number of other natural features, such as Thomson Marsh, protecting them for future generations. Its mandate is to conserve land for wildlife and parks.
COLT was formed by the COF, with seed money from the City of Kelowna and regional district, and today holds assets valued around $8 million.
Legacy Parks—Legacy Lands:
25 years of COLT conservation
Master wine maker, Howard Soon, at Sandhill Wines new tasting room.
Building on last year’s very successful Legacy Parks - Legacy People event, the Central Okanagan Land Trust plans to celebrate its 25th birthday this fall with a reception at the new Sandhill Wines tasting room in Kelowna, called Legacy Lands: 25 Years of COLT Conservation Work.
Mark your calendars for Sat., Oct. 17 when there will be some exciting funding announcements—sort of birthday gifts to the land trust—along with a birthday cake to be shared.
During the evening there’ll be lots of silent auction items, from gift baskets to gift certificates, golf packages to spa outings up for grabs to the highest bidder.
All the proceeds from ticket sales and auction bids will go back into the land trust’s work to conserve land for wildlife.
Again, the Robert Hobson family has come forward to lead the community by committing to set the pace to raise funds to ensure some of the wild beauty of this region is set aside for our grandchildren to know.
Their hope is that you will feel inspired to join them to increase the significance of the endowment fund they opened last year at the Central Okanagan Foundation, with a $50,000 gift to the COLT, and an invitation to the community to add to it. It will set the stage for the COLT’s next quarter century of land conservation work.
The event includes a selection of delectable canapes and a cash bar for master winemaker Howard Soon’s award-winning Sandhill wines, followed by a slice of birthday cake, and it runs from 7-9 p.m.
Sandhill celebrated the first anniversary this spring of the opening of its elegant new tasting room adjacent to Calona Wines and Peller Estates on Richter Street in Kelowna.
Tickets for Legacy Lands will be available through any COLT Board member, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting COLT’s Executive Director, Wayne Wilson, at 250-215-4209.
Peaceful Jewel in the City
By Wayne Wilson
Munson Pond is a rare jewel in a rapidly urbanizing area of Kelowna. It’s actually the remnants of a gravel pit that supplied gravel for construction of the first Okanagan Lake bridge, which opened in 1958. Since then it has become a favourite bird-watching site, a haven for migrating bird species. Today it is a new city-owned park named for one of the pioneer families who first farmed in the area in the late 1800s.
The City of Kelowna purchased much of the area around the pond for a park, and in 2014 approached the Central Okanagan Land Trust for support in re-establishing and maintaining the sensitive environmental characteristics around the pond, including the stand of Black Cottonwood trees and the colony of Great Blue Herons who nest on the south side of the pond.
With its mandate to strengthen the region's biodiversity, COLT agreed to help with the project and negotiated a Conservation Covenant with the City to ensure its biodiversity is protected in the long term.
The three-year project includes establishment of a trail around the perimeter of the pond. Two viewing platforms are also proposed to help visitors better understand the natural values of the new park—its diverse habitat and varied wildlife species. A small foot bridge will be installed across an old irrigation ditch in the southwest corner of the park.
The first year's work will include design of restoration plantings, plotting of a trail, and propagation of native plant species for re-planting on the site in the fall of 2015. In subsequent years the project will include completion of the trail, construction of platforms and the bridge, and more plantings of native species, and eradication of invasives.
With details of the Conservation Covenant in place, COLT agreed to contribute some reserve funds to the project, and Executive Director Wayne Wilson began to apply to various agencies and foundations for funds to complete the work.
The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) has come on board with a goal of preserving the rapidly diminishing water resources in our semi-arid climate and protect wetlands.
The OBWB approved a grant of $15,000, and its support will be critical to revitalize habitat around the pond. 'This is a good fit for everyone,' commented Terry Barton, Parks and Buildings Planning Manager for the City of Kelowna. 'More and more you will see municipalities everywhere establishing partnerships and working closely with groups like the Central Okanagan Land Trust and the OBWB to bring meaningful change to parkland, linear trail networks, and other public spaces.'
The project will need community help from time to time to plant and complete other parts of the project. For its part, COLT will continue to look for funds that support its Mission: 'to protect land for wildlife and parks so biodiversity and natural features are preserved for future generations.'
Board of Directors
Kurt Zander – President
Barry Jones – Past-President, Secretary
Gary Reece – Treasurer
Judie Steeves – Recording Secretary
Don Knox – Director
Laura Hooker – Vice President
Ellen Pedersen – Director
Hugh Westheuser – Director
Bob Groves – Director
Ex officio – Wayne Wilson, Executive Director
Ex officio – Representative, Regional District Central Okanagan
The Central Okanagan Land Trust is fortunate to enjoy the financial, operational and/or development support of individuals, companies, local government, and other agencies. These partnerships help build a stronger network of parklands and conservation areas for wildlife – and we are the collective and individual beneficiaries of those healthy natural spaces. We thank all of them for their continuing support of our work and for their faith in our land stewardship practices.
Named Endowment Funds
J. W. & M. E. Scott Family Fund
J. W. Bootle Family Fund
Charles Pettman Memorial Fund
Bernice Mabee Memorial Fund
Harvey & Ruth Whitson Fund
Dick & Jean Hall Fund
Hobson Family Fund
Central Okanagan Land Trust – Open Fund