About Us

What is Stewardship?

Stewardship is the voluntary conservation and care of habitat and wildlife by land stewards and community groups.

Who we are

CPP_Forbidden Fruits_Brind'Amour (800x600)Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is a non-profit, local, charitable organization (Reg # 845398777RR0001). Building on a 19 year history of stewardship in the region, the SOS Stewardship Program formed an independent society in order to continue their work. In October 2013, OSSS was established to assist and support communities and land stewards in understanding and caring for natural environments throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. We achieve this by providing community stewardship groups and land stewards with information and technical support in voluntary stewardship, conservation and restoration of natural areas within our focal area. 

Meet our team of Board of Directors and Stewardship Biologists HERE.

See our new brochure here!

OSSS works in partnership with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Okanagan CollaborativeConservation Program, governments, other non-profits, industry and other partners with shared visions in order to achieve our goals. We also work with communities, schools, and individual landowners to enhance habitat conservation as we believe that the more people in a community who are involved in the care and stewardship of these natural areas, the more shared investment there is in conservation.

Our History

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPrivate land and community stewardship officially began in the south Okanagan and lower Similkameen valleys with the inception of the SOS Stewardship Program in 1994 under the umbrella of the South Okanagan Conservation Strategy (SOCS).  It was supported in the first few years by The Nature Trust of BC, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund Society, and the Ministry of Environment.  In 2000, The Land Conservancy, TLC, accepted administrative and operational responsibility for the SOS Stewardship Program.

In the early days, landowner contact revolved around property owners of large holdings having a total of 11,000 ha.  Many of these landowners were ranchers.  Their properties were selected on the basis of a number of criteria such as important habitat, location in relation to other important habitat and existing conservation holdings etc.

SOS Stewardship grew to encompass other properties and geographic areas of significance and was awarded 2003’s Ministry of Environment’s Award for Excellence in Stewardship.  Through the next decade, there was a further focus to include support for landowners and communities with respect to species and ecological communities at risk.  In 2013, SOS Stewardship reformed as the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society or OSSS.

Where we work

When the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society was incorporated as an independent society, the founders saw this as an opportunity to also expand the geographic area where they worked. After years of requests for stewardship support throughout the Okanagan Basin, the expansion saw the addition of North Okanagan and Central Okanagan communities to the existing South Okanagan and Similkameen Communities. 
The Okanagan-Similkameen is an incredibly unique region in Canada and includes one of the top four most endangered ecosystems across the nation.  A disproportionately high number of Canada's species at risk occur in our region, most whose primary habitat is in areas where local residents live and recreate.

What we do

OSSS assists and supports land stewards and community stewardship groups in conservation, restoration and enhancement of wildlife habitat.  Find out how we can help you here. 

Focal habitats and species in recent years for the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society have included, but are not limited to:

Grassland Habitats in the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Area

 Grasslands specifically the antelope-brush plant community, which supports species at risk such as the Behr’s Hairstreak butterfly, Great Basin Gophersnake, and Nightsnake;

Riparian habitats in the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Area
Riparian and Wetland areas, which nurture species such as the Great Basin Spadefoot, Tiger Salamander, Western Screech-owl, Yellow-breasted Chat;
rugged terrain habitat Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship area
Rugged Terrain, which provides habitat for the Western Rattlesnake, Western Yellow-bellied Racer, and California bighorn sheep; 

Coniferous Forest habitat in the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Area
Coniferous Forests, which are essential for Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and White-headed Woodpecker

Why is stewardship so important to this region?

Job well done - Copy
Stewardship is the conservation of natural wildlife habitat by individual landowners and community groups.  Conserving and restoring natural areas offers personal satisfaction and is a lasting legacy for future generations.  The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society (OSSS) is here to support you in your stewardship efforts.

The Okanagan-Similkameen – a unique part of Canada that needs your help
The south Okanagan and lower Similkameen valleys have a rich diversity of habitats and wildlife, including some plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in Canada. Urban and agricultural development has reduced natural areas and fragmented habitats so private landowners now play a vital role in protecting wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Studies done by the BC Ministry of Environment show the percentage of habitat loss in the Okanagan since the 1800s:
70% of grassland
90% of Okanagan River’s riparian (creek-side) habitat
85% of low-elevation wetlands.Since a large percentage of remaining valuable habitats occur on private land your voluntary stewardship activities can make a big difference.

Thank you to our partners and funders

Thank you to our partners and funders