Meet some of our Wildlife Habitat Stewards!

What are Wildlife Habitat Stewards?
1. Voluntary caretakers of important wildlife habitats on their owned or managed properties.
2. They drive stewardship, conservation and enhancement efforts on their properties.
3. Partners in stewardship and habitat enhancement projects.
4. They follow best management practices for wildlife on their properties.

70 landowners in the Okanagan and Similkameen have become Wildlife Habitat Stewards, caring for over 3550 acres in partnership with OSS.  Being a Wildlife Habitat Steward does not mean you can't "use" your land. Wildlife Habitat Stewards still maintain their agricultural, tourism and other land use practices on their properties while implementing best management practices for wildlife.

See below, how landowners like you are balancing their businesses and land uses with caring for natural areas and then find out how you can become a Wildlife Habitat Steward, too HERE.

Steve Venables and Kim Brind’Amour, have created a beautiful place of refuge on the banks of the Similkameen River near Cawston. Setting aside a vast sage-brush steppe and cottonwood forest and donating tasting fees to Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship, the couple have also established an organic orchard with a wide variety of tree fruits. Their Forbidden Fruits Winery takes those organic fruits and creates award-winning fruit and grape wines and tasting fees are donated to Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship projects.

Mariposa Organic Farm: Lee McFadyen
Lee McFadyen and her late husband, Robert established Mariposa Organic Farm in 1962 becoming the first organic farm in the Similkameen Valley. Recognizing the inherent values on their property they decided to preserve some of their land for wildlife and have participated in SOSS since 1994.   In 1999 her son Karl, his wife Sarah and their two children returned home to farm.  They share Lee’s conservation values and continue to steward over 130 acres of rugged grassland on their property.  Currently, they are happily renewing their stewardship agreement with OSSS.  The family shares the grassland with a high concentration of threatened and endangered species.  These include Great Basin Gopher snakes, Western rattlesnakes Western Yellow-bellied Racer, Tiger Salamanders, and Sage Thrashers to name a few.

Dumpling Dale Organic Farm: Gabi and Dave Cursons
At Dumpling Dale Organic Farm, Gabi and Dave Cursons have created a living example of how organic farming can foster biological diversity and productivity within a small amount of space.  Gabi and Dave cultivate a wide variety of ground crops and they foster native plants in the areas that are not in production and have planted dozens of native shrubs to create a ‘nature belt’ with thickets of rose, dogwood, sages, rabbit-brush and more.

Harker’s Fruit Ranch & Rustic Roots Wine: Bruce and Kathy Harker
Bruce and Kathy Harker grew up in the Similkameen and have seen the disappearance of riparian areas. Realizing the importance of this habitat, they have rehabilitated a creek running through their property by cleaning up the banks, fencing out livestock and letting the area regenerate with native vegetation. They are also preserving old and mixed-growth black cottonwood habitat. Harker’s Fruit Ranch organic store is a local landmark. 

The Princeton Golf Course has helped the local badger population by installing road signs about their presence and the need for reduced speeds.  The golf course keeps an eye out for them and is actively protecting their burrows.

Lastfandango Farmgate Sales & Faulder-Badlands Sport Horses: Joan and Vern Sopow
Joan and Vern Sopow have left over half of their 35 acre property in Faulder undeveloped and natural while operating three businesses including Lastfandango Farmgate Sales, Faulder Badlands Sport Horses and South Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association. Becoming Wildlife Habitat Stewards has been a significant learning experience for the landowners, and helped them find a working balance between business and environment. 

Okanagan Crush Pad: Steve and Christine Lornie
Known for their natural wines using organically farmed grapes in state-of-the-art concrete tanks, native yeast and minimal additives, Okanagan Crush Pad is also partnering to restore a four-hectare riparian zone on their Garnett Valley property. The riparian area is part of a 126-hectare parcel, owned by the winery.

Garnet Valley Ranch: Keith and Marnie Manders

For Keith and Marnie Manders, owners of Garnet Valley Ranch, caring for the environment is as much a business imperative as it is a personal passion. With all hands on deck the Manders and OSS staff planted about 350 plants along Eneas Creek. Over the next few years both parties will continue to work together to maintain the area and keep the grass down so it doesn’t choke out the new plantings.

Summerland Golf and Country Club has two ponds on their course, one of which is home to a healthy population of the endangered Blotched Tiger Salamander.  Once the golf course found out that these rare amphibians were calling their pond "home", they established a buffer around the pond and enhanced an out of play area in order to provide more habitat for the critters.

Lunessence Winery: Michal Mosny
Michael Mosney of Lunessence Winery believes in sustainable, environmentally sensitive viticulture, respecting the vineyard as a living and varied ecosystem. Each bottle is a proud expression of the earth it came from. The more we are listening and respecting the vineyard, nature is giving it back to us a thousand times.

O’Reilly Organic Farm and B&B: David O'Reilly and Allison Cran
David O’Reilly and Allison Cran fully appreciate the importance of environmental health in agricultural success, and have placed a conservation covenant on a portion of their certified organic farm and bed & breakfast, protecting the wetland and riparian habitat in perpetuity. David and Allison have also built an additional wetland, and converted a portion of the farm back into natural habitat. The legacy David and Allison will leave is evident in their guest’s enjoyment as they witness wildlife in action.

Spadefoot Toad Vineyard: Joan and Ron Firman
The Firman family, at Spadefoot Toad Vineyard (formerly Antares Vineyard), have devoted years of hard work to enhance and conserve the nesting, breeding, and foraging habitat in and around the wetland on their property. The family’s efforts are repaid yearly by multiple species at risk taking full advantage of the wetland.

High Chapparral Guest House: Linda Sheehy and Bruce Brownstein
Nestled high in the hills west of Oliver, the High Chaparral Guest House, owned and operated by Linda Sheehy and Bruce Brownstein, offers serenity and privacy amid the indigenous flora and fauna of the northernmost high desert in North America. 

Forbes Family Farm: Gord and Steve Forbes
Gord and Steve Forbes operate their family’s certified organic farm which borders one of Oliver’s remaining wetlands. Their wetland filters and replenishes groundwater, and acts as a refuge for species at risk. The Forbes are very active members of the community, and are equally active in ensuring the wetland is protected for wildlife and for the education and enjoyment of future generations.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards & Miradoro Restaurant: Sandra and Ken Oldfield
Ken and Sandra Oldfield of TinhornCreek Vineyards have set an excellent example of operating an award-winning winery while protecting species at risk. Kenn and Sandra regularly improve their practices with the latest in conservation research and sustainable practices. In addition to habitat restoration, Kenn and Sandra worked closely with us and local biologists when building their recently constructed restaurant, ensuring minimal impact on native Antelope-brush habitat.

Georgina deLagran
Shortly after acquiring land north of Oliver, Georgina deLagran realized the fragility of the ecosystems in the South Okanagan. The family kept their footprint small and outside influences to a minimum. As a result, approximately 41 of the original 41.5 acres that were purchased 34 years ago remain ecologically intact. There are four healthy ecosystems on the property that create valuable habitat for rapidly disappearing native flora and fauna. With the help of Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship, Georgina is hopeful that this beautiful oasis will remain unspoiled for years to come. Photo: Alton’s Interpretations

Bighorn Ridge Guest House: Roger Hawthorne and Carla Leinweber
Roger Hawthorne and Carla Leinweber with the Bighorn Ridge Guest House have embraced stewardship on their property, which is very important as they are one of few properties in their area that have not converted to vineyards.  They are providing their guest with local species and vegetation information and are taking steps to control invasive plants.

Three Gates Farm: Doreen Olson
Three Gates Farm on the Marron River has sagebrush and forest habitat which is home to owls and several other species at risk. Doreen Olsen of Three Gates Farms has been actively involved in the Stewardship Program since its early days.  She is very committed to protecting species and their environment and is a member of several conservation community groups.

Phyllis Jmaeff is the owner of Mountain Springs Nature Retreat and what a retreat her property is!  Her place is host to a variety of wildlife and habitats, from cliffs to riparian thickets.  She has participated in numerous stewardship enhancement projects with the program over the years-most notably- a large fencing project in 2011 to exclude feral cattle and livestock.

Casa del Mell Orchard: Mellhina and Ken Thibault
Ken and Mellhina Thibault operate Casa del Mell Orchard, boasting one of Osoyoos’s oldest roadside fruit stands. Under the care of Ken and Mellhina, the wetland and riparian habitat has undergone extensive restoration and enhancement. The improved habitat has provided much needed refuge to wildlife, and has set an excellent example for tourists and residents of the Osoyoos area.

Kambo Farms and Ciliegia Villas: Ranbir and Shinder Kambo
The Kambo family, of Kambo Farms and Ciliegia Villa, voluntarily restored a wetland on their property. Each spring since restoring the wetland, the family and guests are treated to a full chorus of amphibians enjoying the pond. The pond also provides critical habitat for many other plants and animals, including insects which pollinate surrounding farms and provide food for wildlife.

Web Metal Fabricators: Rob Webster and Lynn Cunningham
Rob Webster and Lynn Cunningham, owners of Web Metal Fabricators Ltd., have diligently stewarded the large wetland on their property for many years. The family has successfully removed introduced invasive species and enhanced native riparian vegetation around the wetland, which has restored critical habitat for species at risk and contributed to improved groundwater quality and replenishment in the Osoyoos area.

Kailay Orchards: Jaswinder Kailay
Jaswinder Kailay is the steward of a kettle pond in Osoyoos.  There was significant amount of garbage at the pond when Mr. Kailay purchased the property.  Upon becoming a Wildlife Habitat Steward, OSS assisted with removal of the garbage and enhancement of the buffer and aquatic plants.  The pond is home to many Western Painted Turtles and amphibians.

God’s Mountain Estate B&B: Sarah Allen and Richard Goodall
Sarah Allen and Richard Goodall own and operate God’s Mountain Estate B&B and vineyard. The couple’s 100 acre plus stewarded area, composed of rugged terrain, grassland, and Ponderosa pine, forms a vital corridor between protected California Bighorn sheep habitats. Guests to God’s Mountain Estate are privileged to hike numerous trails regularly traveled by multiple threatened and endangered species.

Alexis Friesen transformed her backyard pool into a pond for all sorts of wildlife along Forestbrook hill in Penticton.  This project is nothing short of incredible!

Clubhouse Farms is a 12 acre award winning non-profit organziation, which provides a much-needed safe, outdoor play space for children, while being stewards of 4 distinct ecosystems in the Ellison neighbourhood of Kelowna.

A unique place where people can experience zip-lining, fear- jumping, and many other thrilling adventures, visiting Wildplay is an exciting way of immersing oneself in nature.  Managed by Park Manager Nathan Cooney, Wildplay Kelowna are proud stewards of about 15 hectares of dry Ponderosa Pine forest.
“We do our best to not disturb our animal neighbours, although the same cannot always be said about them! Our activities integrate so well with the trees that, if ever necessary, we could pack up our courses and leave with out any long term impact on the environment. However, we don’t plan to any time soon!” 

Tantalus Vineyards Winery is BC’s first and only LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified winery, with a building and land use that is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Their vineyard is naturally farmed, hand tended and herbicide and pesticide free.  Not only do they do a great job to minimize their impact on the landscape through their operations, but they encourage biodiversity of native flora and fauna with the conservation of 10 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest within their vineyard, along with the placement of 53 bee hives and numerous bird nesting boxes. 

Wayne and Wendie Radies
Wayne and Wendie recently excavated a nearly 0.5 acre wetland on their property with the help of Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship and partners.  This ground-moving project was nothing short of extraordinary and will provide valuable wetland habitat for waterfowl and many other wildlife species including the Great Basin Spadefoot.

Fred and Jan Nelson
Fred and Jan Nelson are Vernon landowners who happen to have badger dens on their property.  While badgers have extensive territories, the dens on the Nelson's property are occupied by badgers each year and they have even been lucky enough to see several kits!

Silver Hills Ranch: Lee Hesketh
Silver Hills Ranch is located on the edge of the Monashee Mountain range along the Shuswap River in Lumby. The ranch supports a wide variety of biodiversity.  Lee Hesketh, owner/operator of the ranch says "Silver Hills Ranch is making efforts to work with Mother Nature versus against her as we go about the business of raising commercial beef cattle. The primary resources of the ranch are water, grass, and trees, and we realize that everything hinges on these resources' success for the ranch to be successful."  This philosophy is evident as soon as you step foot on the ranch.

Marcel and Jean Galli
Most people don't think of old, abandoned barns as habitat, but they can actually be very important roosting sites for bats.  Marcel and Jean Galli are maintaining one such barn that is home to a maternal colony of Townsend's Big-eared Bats.

To learn more about the Wildlife Habitat Stewardship program see  Become-a-Wildlife-Habitat-Steward.