Our Mission

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship is a local non-profit, charitable organization that assists residents, managers and community groups in voluntary conservation, stewardship and restoration of important habitats on private lands and within communities of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. 

Annual TD Tree Day

Plant with us!

We've teamed up again with the City of Penticton and TD Tree Days to Green Up Riverside Marsh next to Locolanding in Penticton. 

Join us to help plant hundreds of native shrubs and trees! This is a fun, family-friendly and free event.

Date: Sunday, September 17, 2017
Time: 10:00am - 1:00pm

Bring a picnic lunch, water, gloves and shovels if you have them!

Map to the site 

Be a Weed Warrior! Volunteer with us!

Volunteer opportunities - Please join us if you can!

Max Lake Take 2
Date: Thursday June 29
Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: Max Lake (aka Madeleine Lake), West Bench Penticton

Riverside Marsh
Date: Wednesday July 5
Time: 10:00am-12:00pm
Location: Riverside Marsh, Penticton

What to Bring

- close-toed shoes
- long pants
- hat & gloves if you have them
- water
- sunscreen & bug spray
- sense of adventure!

We will have light refreshments for volunteers

Strategic Plan

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship has developed a 5 year plan for the organization. Want to know what we're aiming to accomplish in our communities? Check it out here!

Meet our 2017 Summer Interns!

Sierra Rae is a Natural Resource Science student finishing her degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. Over the past few years, she has taken part in undergraduate research where she has worked in restoration, animal behaviour, climate change and invasive weed control. She has volunteered on conservation projects with reptiles, amphibians, birds and sharks. In 2016, she was elected to a representative position in her student government where she worked on social campaigns and student outreach. She is an ambassador for sustainability, and has a passion for environmental protection and conservation.
She is excited to expand her knowledge and work as a Stewardship Intern for the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship!

Callan Cooper is a student at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, pursuing her degree in Environmental Studies.  Growing up in a unique ecosystem, the Okanagan Valley, she has always been passionate about the natural world and the diversity dwelling within it. Over the past few years she has been able to bolster this passion through her studies doing ecological work in the Fraser Valley area and on the island of Maui.   Callan is excited to be working with us this summer so that she can learn more about environmental sustainability and encourage others to be stewards of this fascinating world we live in!

Happy "World Turtle Day"

The Western Painted Turtle is BC's one and only native turtle.  Named for their bright yellow stripes across their necks and brilliant red designs on their plastron (shell that covers their bellies), the Western Painted Turtle is a beautiful reptile. The Western Painted Turtle is on the provincial blue list, meaning they are vulnerable to habitat loss, including filling in of wetlands, pollution, and competing land use practices.
Western painted turtles using a basking log

Western Painted Turtles prefer the edges of ponds and ditches as well as sluggish streams with muddy bottoms and lots of aquatic plants. These areas provide them with habitat for basking, shelter from predators, hibernation and food.  Having plant-free sandy upland areas next to this aquatic habitat is also necessary for these turtles as they require sandy habitats for nesting. These turtles also require logs or other basking structures where they can get completely out of the water.

What can you do?

  1. Keep your distance from wildlife and be aware of when you're in turtle habitat so you don't trample one of their nests
  2. Install basking logs in small ponds, avoid "tidying" the logs out of your pond if you already have some.
  3. Add sand mounds adjacent to small ponds for turtle nesting habitat.
  4. Enhance buffers around ponds by planting native plants.  These buffers help to filter pollutants out of run-off that enters these important wetlands.
  5. Never take a wild turtle home and never leave a domestic turtle in the wild!
  6. Learn more about the Western Painted Turtle here.


There is another turtle that you may see in BC but it isn't native, the red-eared slider. The red-eared slider was a very popular pet turtle and was sold in pet stores as adorable little babies. These turtles can grow up to 40cm in length and as adults need tanks that are at least 120 litres, with a basking platform and a UV light source. Red-eared sliders can live 50-70 years in captivity so having one as a pet is a BIG commitment. Many unwanted turtles were released into lakes or ponds in our area. These turtles have since become an invasive species that is breeding in the wild. These turtles compete with our native painted turtles for food and they breed later in the year and will sometimes dig up painted turtle nests to lay their own eggs.
Painted turtle left and red-eared slider right, they can be distinguished by the red patch on the red-eared slider's neck
Painted turtle plastron (belly) left and red-eared slider plastron (belly) right. The red belly of the painted turtle is a great way to tell them apart from red-eared sliders. Sometimes a little bit of their belly is visible when they are out basking on logs

If you would like assistance in enhancing existing turtle habitat on your properties, please contact Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship by email at info at osstewardship.ca 

South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls

Join us at the 29th Annual SORCO Open House this Sunday from 10:00am-3:00pm!

It's the Great Canadian Birdathon!

The Great Canadian Birdathon (formerly known as the Baillie Birdathon) is gearing up for another great year! Put on by Bird Studies Canada, the event is the oldest sponsored bird count in the country and usually raises around $200,000 per year to help fund the many research, education, and citizen science programs run by the organisation.

Other events put on by Bird Studies Canada include Project Feederwatch
the Christmas Bird Count, and the Important Bird Area Program

Birdathon participants sign up alone or as part of a team and find sponsors to donate to their fundraising goal. Then they pick a day in May and spend the whole day (or sometimes just part of a day) trying to find as many different bird species as they can.
Some sponsors base their donations on how many birds species are counted, so the more birds sighted the better! Teams and individuals can choose whether all of their proceeds go towards Bird Studies Canada or whether a portion is given to a conservation organisation of their choice.

Get involved!

Want to start your own team or sign up solo?  You can register here. Don't worry if you're not a bird expert - any and all participants are welcome.

Want to join an already-existing team? The Allen Brooks Nature Centre in Vernon is looking for team members! Their team page can be found here.

Not much of a birder but still want to help? You can make a donation to help a birding team reach their fundraising goal. If you want to support a local team,  here is the donation link to the team leader for the Allan Brooks Nature Centre.


Saving the bees is all the buzz, but it's important to know what you are planting with "wildflower
mixes". These seed mixes, though beautiful, often contain hidden invaders that can cause problems in local habitats since they are chosen to thrive with little to no care. Make sure before spreading these wildflower seeds, that you have checked the plant list!!
Check out our Living in Nature Series Guide: Attracting Native Pollinators for a list of beautiful native plants that flower throughout the growing season, attracting bees and butterflies without introducing invasive plants. Plantwise also has a great "grow me instead" section.
Bee nectaring on native, flowering balsamroot.