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. 

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!

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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.

Imposters 

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.



BEWARE OF INVADERS!!

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.

Seeking Summer Interns

Are you looking for a summer job where you'll get real-world work experience beyond flipping burgers?


We are hiring hard-working summer interns for the 2017 field season to conquer invasive plants and engage our communtiy in hands-on stewardship intiatives- AND it's all in the beautiful Okanagan and Similkameen outdoors.

View the job posting here and apply by April 3, 2017 at 9am.


It's World Wildlife Day!


We have seen all kinds of wildlife using the habitat protected by our amazing Wildlife Habitat Stewards. In honour of World Wildlife Day we thought we might share some of our favorite photos!

To view photo captions, click the Fullscreen button in botton right corner of the slideshow. Then click "Show Info" in the upper right corner.



These busy badgers were seen last spring at one of our steward's homes in the North Okanagan. Just look how cute they are!

video

For a more great badger videos from the same stewards, take a look at one of our previous posts.


This speedy little Great Basin Spadefoot tadpole was spotted (along with many, many others!) at one of our Oosyoos steward's properties. This pond rears hundreds of spadefoots each spring.
video

Do you have amazing wildlife living on your property and want to help protect their habitat? Contact us to find out what you can do!

Creature Feature: Corvids

A corvid? What on earth is a corvid??

Corvids are a family of birds (technically named Corvidae) that includes crows, ravens, magpies, and jays, among a few others. This bird family is huge, containing almost 120 species, and can be found everywhere on earth except the polar ice caps. Most species are medium to large sized birds, with stout builds and strong, sturdy beaks. They are usually extremely social, mating for life and often roosting in large family groups.
Common Ravens are almost the size of a 
hawk and make a hoarse, croaking caw.
In the Okanagan-Similkameen, the most well known corvids are likely the Common Raven, American Crow, and Black-billed Magpie, but Steller's Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, and Grey Jays (aka Whiskey Jacks) are also members of the family.

Corvids are a very unique group of birds.  Even though they are classified as Songbirds (a bigger group  of birds that includes many other small birds like robins, sparrows, warblers, etc), most do not truly sing as other songbirds do, instead using a multitude of caws, whistles, chirps, gurgles, and chatters to communicate. It is also interesting to note that many corvids are exceptional mimics as well; hand-raised Common Ravens can be taught human words and Steller's Jays produce a surprisingly accurate Red-tailed Hawk scream.  Many corvids, crows and ravens in particular, have been observed participating in activities that can really only be classified as 'play'; tobogganing down inclines, tug-of-war with siblings, and aerial acrobatics are just some of the activities that have been observed.


Canada's new national bird, the 'Whiskey
Jack' is a corvid! Photo by Walter Siegmund
Corvids are by far the smartest group of birds on the planet. After accounting for their smaller body size, these birds have brains comparable to dolphins and apes, two animals we have long known are highly intelligent. Various species of Corvids have been proven to be able to use tools, solve puzzles, recognize facial features, and count to 5. Others have the ability to recall past events or plan for the future (episodic-like memory) and communicate information about something that is distant, either physically far away or far away in time (lingual displacement).

To learn more about corvids and more about how amazingly smart they are, feel free to visit the links below:
A writer befriends some corvids
Impulse control in jackdaws and ravens
Have issues with an annoying corvid?
Wikipedia article on Corvids

Thank you to our partners and funders

Thank you to our partners and funders