The Wetlandkeepers Workshop in Kelowna (May 1-3, 2015) lead by Neil Fletcher was packed full of fun wetland information and activities. The workshop was held at the Oceola Fish and Game Club and 25 participants came out to learn as well as provide insightful information on the local wetlands. We had members from many groups including the Oceola Fish and Game Club, Raingarden, the Central Okanagan Land Trust (C.O.L.T), the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Twin Lakes Stewardship Society. Participants learned about wetland values, mapping and surveying; and how they can get involved in conserving wetlands in their local community. We were also joined by five amazing guest speakers throughout the weekend, making for a rich course with many interesting topics.
Josie Symonds with the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations came to teach about Alkali wetlands and rare wetland plant species that we should be watching for. Josie accompanied us to Kathleen Lake (an Alkali wetland) where we observed thousands of brine shrimp that live only in salt water.
Jillian Tamblyn with the Okanagan Basin Water Board and Adam Patterson with Ecoscape disscussed the Okanagan Wetland Strategy and how community members can be collecting wetland data to contribute to phase 2 of the strategy.
Tanya Seebacher with Golder Associates held a birding session at Thomson Marshes and participants both heard and saw a large diversity of birds in the Marsh. We even got to see and hear a Sora which was very exciting! The amount and diversity of birds represents how important this wetland is for local wildlife.
Brian Heise from UBC joined the workshop on Sunday to teach about wetland invertebrates and he successfully passed on his enthusiasm and excitement to the class. We went out to the Winfield Nature Reserve and performed hands on invertebrate collection and identification. We were successful in collecting and identifying several invertebrates including dragonfly and damselfly larva, water boatman, water striders, phantom midges, caddisflies, and many more. We learned that there is a “Butt Breathing Theme” when it comes to wetland invertebrates as many of them stick their bums up to the surface and breathe through it while keeping the rest of their body in the water; very interesting creatures!
With the hands on experience and knowledge that each participant gained they can now go out into the field to conduct wetland surveys and map local wetlands with GPS units. There are potentially 9500 wetlands in the Okanagan and many are still not mapped and more information needs to be collected on them including which type of wetland it is; what types of animals, plants and invertebrates live there and what risks are posed to the wetland. This information can be put onto the Community Mapping Network and contribute to phase 2 of the Okanagan Wetland Strategy leading to prioritization, protection and restoration of more important wetlands in the Okanagan.
During the workshop a member of C.O.L.T identified a potential research project that would involve best management practices for enhancing wildlife habitat at Munson’s Pond. There is a potential for UBC students and other community members to get involved in volunteer opportunities.
A special thank you to all of our speakers, partners and funders:
Speakers: Jillian Tamblyn, Adam Patterson, Josie Symonds, Tanya Seebacher, and Brian Heise.