The area around Vernon has experienced unprecedented growth since the 1990s putting many of the local sensitive habitats at risk. The Allan Brooks Nature Centre has been instrumental in achieving both completion of Sensitive Ecosystem Inventories and providing input to local government policies. The Centre itself is located within a sensitive grassland ecosystem. This wetland reclamation and Interpretive trail project is an offsite program along BX Creek in North Vernon Park that explores one of these sensitive ecosystems found in Vernon and around the Okanagan Valley. This area of BX Creek is located east of 20th Street, behind Rona and Walmart and north of 48th Avenue.

This project highlights one of the riparian sensitive ecosystems. Riparian ecosystems are associated with water and offer a lush oasis in an otherwise arid landscape. The Black Cottonwood – Red Osier Dogwood riparian ecosystem, which was historically a part of the BX Creek floodplain and other areas around Vernon are both sensitive and threatened. It provides habitat for many species, some of which are at risk. Only 33 percent of the Black Cottonwood - Red Osier Ecosystem remains in the Vernon area and the Black Cottonwood ecosystems of the British Columbia Interior are all considered at risk with only fragments remaining.

While the City of Vernon’s environmental management strategy, partially based on Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory is a step in the right direction to preserve remaining habitats at risk, it is important that the local residents place value on these natural assets, and recognize their value through hands-on experience and ownership. Without public engagement in the process of protection, preservation of these areas will be far more difficult over time.

This project is an opportunity for adults and children to participate in experiential learning within the community. It provides opportunities for the public to connect to the riparian ecosystem of the lower BX Creek through an interpretive trail, enhanced information for local schools, and tying these interpretive activities to hands-on experiences, such as an invasive weed pulls and the wetland reclamation.

Public ownership and engagement are keys to the long-term protection and preservation of these areas. The goal of this process is to facilitate public participation in, and appreciation of these valuable riparian floodplain and wetland habitats.

Events, including invasive weed pulls, will take place along the trail during the fall and spring. These events will foster community involvement and appreciation of the natural environment.

Financial Supporters of Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society in this project.

This project is being undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment. This project received additional funding from the RBC Blue Water Community Grant, the Public Conservation Assistance Fund and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program. The views expressed herein are solely those of Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society.

In-kind Supporters