Wetland conservation along the Okanagan River
The bobolink has one of the longest migrations of any North American songbird, travelling 20,000 kilometres to and from South America each year (which can add up to the equivalent of four or five times around the Earth’s circumference in a lifetime). In the summer it breeds in open areas across much of southern Canada and the northern United States.
While walking along the Okanagan River, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a bobolink in this critical breeding location in the Okanagan Valley. Considered a birder’s paradise, the Osoyoos Oxbows area, located along the Okanagan River, fosters habitat that is recognized as an Important Bird Area for many species, and contains some of the last remaining marshes in a once-thriving wetland area.
In March, NCC announced the conservation of a 90-acre (36-hectare) property in the heart of the Osoyoos Oxbows. Once an agricultural property, the Ted Pendergraft and Sons Conservation Area has now joined other conservation lands in the area to create a growing conservation legacy along the Okanagan River.
This project includes the restoration of some of the former agricultural fields to more natural wetlands. Oxbows are wetland channels that have been cut off from the main river; the Osoyoos Oxbows are remnants from the original path of the Okanagan River, which was straightened in the 1950s to control flooding. Rehabilitating historic oxbow channels allows wetland species, such as the western painted turtle, Great Basin spadefoot and blotched tiger salamander (all COSEWIC-designated species at risk), to relocate from nearby areas.
A key partner in NCC's work in the Osoyoos Oxbows is Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). In addition to contributing funds to purchase the new conservation lands, DUC is also a co-title holder and will collaborate with restoration work on the site.
Many funders contributed to the success of this project, including the Government of Canada, under the Natural Areas Conservation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, British Columbia Conservation Foundation, Oliver-Osoyoos Naturalists' Club, South Okanagan Naturalists' Club, Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, Burrowing Owl Winery and many individuals.