Some of these hunters may be retired, but they continue to work hard to preserve their local wetland. Part of the crew: Dave Carleton, Ray Paulsen, Bryn White, and Jillian Tamblyn.
McLachlan Lake (unofficially named) is located in the Garnet Valley, not far west of Peachland, BC. This site was put on the radar by Bryn White (South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program) as she watched this wetland change year after year while riding her horses through the valley. There are two major threats to this wetland, year round over grazing by up to 200 cattle head and off road vehicles. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see any “forest cows”, but I saw evidence of them. Neil and I surveyed the site and recorded lots chewed down vegetation, soil compaction, recent cattle paddies, and pugging (which means pools formed by cattle foot prints and has nothing to do with dogs). Over grazing and off-road mud bogging are common challenges hundreds of wetlands in the Okanagan are being impacted by.
This restoration project was simple: replace existing barbed wire fencing to keep the cattle and off-roaders out of the wetland. With the help of volunteers, 900m of new fencing was installed in just 4 days. Dave McLelland and Doug Penny from Meadow Valley Construction used their excavator to remove old fencing and hammer in new posts. These laborers then guided volunteers and myself how to tighten and staple the barbed wire. The local rancher Dave Casorso was also helping out with the posts and wire and was even involved in the planning process of this project. Dave Carleton from the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association got creative and built a device on his ATV to lay the barbed wiring. Upon looking at a number of vehicle tracks through the field, Ray Paulsen (Summerland Sportsmen’s Association) commented “I have an ATV and I’m a hunter but I have too much respect for wildlife and I would never do this to a wetland”. This project is good example of members from local fish a game clubs coming together for conservation.
This project was a collaboration among Bryn White (South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program), Dave Carleton and Ray Paulsen (Summerland Sportsmen’s Association), Dave McLelland and Doug Penny (Meadow Valley Construction and Summerland Sportsmen’s Association), Lia McKinnon (Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society), Lorraine Bennest, Sue George, Murray Rooney (Summerland Sportsmen’s Association), and Jillian Tamblyn (Water’s Edge Consulting and coordinator for Phase 2 of the Okanagan Wetland Strategy). A special thanks to the provincial FLNRO Range staff Charles Oduro, Rob Dinwoodie, and the District Manager Ray Crampton who provided support and approvals for the project in record turn around time. This project could not be completed without the financial support of the Central Okanagan Regional District, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Environment Canada, and supported by the BCWF and Okanagan Basin Water Board.