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Bald Range Project

Article by Judie Steeves

p6298173Members of the Peachland Sportsman’s Association spearheaded a habitat restoration project on the Bald Range grassland off Bear Main Forest Service Road in 2010, and continue working in the area today.

In 2012, the PSA received a small Public Conservation Assistance Fund grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to work on restoring the grassland and repairing the eroding gullies resulting from fall line trails created by dirt bikers.

With fencing off of that area and closure of those trails, along with construction of a network of new, sustainable dirt bike trails in that area, the trails within that pocket grassland are no longer used, and there’s was a general willingness to do some restoration work from the many ministries involved and local not for profit groups and the City of Kelowna—which is responsible downstream for the quality of drinking water sourced from Bear Creek.

Several meetings were held with an inter-ministry ecosystem restoration committee to discuss the project.
An initial work party was held in June, 2013, along with a chainsaw certification course so members would be able to safely remove some of the overcrowded trees at the bottom of the grassland and insert them into the gullies as check dams to slow the downhill flow of water.

More work parties were held in the fall of the next year and spring of 2015, as well as in December of that year.
Volunteers involved came not only from the ranks of the PSA, but also from the Oceola Fish and Game Club, the Kelowna Fish and Game Club, the Okanagan Trail Riders’ Association, the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club (which used to maintain bird boxes in the area), and from the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, as well as the ministries.
Technical assistance has been offered throughout the project from grassland ecologist Don Gayton and geoscientist Lorne Davies.

One of the most frustrating issues at present is the increasing presence of the invasive St. John’s Wort and Sulphur Cinquefoil, which are choking out native plants.

A number of experiments are being conducted to try and reduce populations of these invasives, including the introduction earlier this year of Chrysalina beetles which feed on St. John’s Wort.

In June this year, Al Springer, Lorne Davies and Judie Steeves erected an interpretive sign on Bald Range FSR, alongside the grassland, describing some of the work that’s been done in the area by volunteers.pb049850pb049867

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