Valley Glen Wetland

At the south end of Brandt’s Creek Linear Park in Kelowna is a perfect place to relax — Valley Glen Wetland on Valley Road. It has a small bridge over the creek and benches to watch numerous resident waterfowl. It is part of a new cycling route nicknamed the Pretty Ponds and Parks Ride.

When it comes to outdoor recreation (and many other life experiences as well), be creative and be flexible.

The Sheriff was so impressed by the recent discovery of a new cycling route in Kelowna that he had to share it with hiking/biking buddies Suzanne and Gerd, and then Constant Companion Carmen.

Thanks to Meetup.com group, Okanagan E-Bikers Plus, the new Ponds and Parks Ride links Redlich Pond, Munson Pond Park and Thomson Marsh Park, part of Mission Recreation Park (Mission Sportsfields).

The Sheriff added two ponds along Brandt’s Creek Linear Park for a total of five ponds in his amended Pretty Ponds and Parks Ride.

The hidden gem in Brandt’s Creek Linear Park is at the north end of this meandering trail in the Glenmore Valley of Kelowna, and at the north end of Millard Glen Park.

Most linear park users stop at the south entrance on Millard Court West since there is no trail through Millard Glen Park.

We cycle around Millard Place to enter Millard Glen Park from the north end where there is a small pond and resident ducks who quickly walk up the bank to see if their lucky neighbours brought any treats.

We then walk our bikes along a beautiful grass slope to the south entrance.

At the south end of Brandt’s Creek Linear Park is Valley Glen Wetland on Valley Road, which is on the beaten path. It has a small bridge over the creek and benches to watch numerous resident waterfowl.

When we paused at Redlich Pond (off High Road), there was a small wooden raft at one end where five turtles kept an eye on us.

A short wooden ramp there protects a turtle nesting area.

While we were at the two viewing platforms on Munson Pond, an information board lamented the fact that more than 85 per cent of wetlands in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys (and associated riparian habitats) have been lost. Many of the remaining wetlands are highly fragmented.

Studies reveal about 80 per cent of wildlife in this region are either directly dependent on wetland and riparian ecosystems or use them more frequently than most other habitat types.

Wetlands act like giant sponges, quickly absorbing water. By storing and slowly releasing rainfall and spring run-off, wetlands reduce flooding. As well, Okanagan wetlands contain crucial habitat for some rare species, including tiger salamanders and great basin spadefoot toads.

As for the flexibility aspect of outdoor recreation, we joined other members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club to cycle the Wood Lake Loop which involves the Okanagan Rail Trail and Pelmewash Parkway. Compared to the higher speeds of Okanagan E-Bikers Plus, this was a very casual, very leisurely pedal, but quite enjoyable with so many panoramic lake views.

We also joined KCKC members for a Salmon Arm weekend campout and two paddles on Shuswap Lake, although the first was short-lived due to an approaching thunderstorm.

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The Sheriff received an email from a column reader whose quiet, meditative cycles along the Okanagan Rail Trail are often interrupted by noisy motorcyclists.

“I regularly ride the Rs2Ts in the early morning for exercise,” she wrote.

“It is a very lovely time when there are very few riders and almost no walkers on the trail. More and more, there are small motorbikes on the trail (this morning — three within a 20-minute period), some of them annoyingly loud in an environment that is quiet except for the birds and the occasional whoosh of a cyclist riding by.

“These licensed gas-powered motorbikes are being driven by adult males wearing the appropriate motorcycle gear such as a helmet and gloves. I usually see the motorbikes between Spall Road and UBCO but they motor on ahead … There is clear signage that these motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail, yet there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping these motorists from using the trail.”

When the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen were returning home from our Pretty Ponds and Parks Ride, we spotted a Meetup.com group at Spall Road and Clement Avenue, and joined them on the rail trail to John Hindle Drive.

A short distance north of Dilworth Drive, we spotted a car on the trail with its emergency lights flashing.

It was bylaw enforcement officers who said they regularly patrol there but had not seen any motorcyclists. If they did, they would certainly have stopped them for a warning or bylaw infraction ticket.

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In related rail trail news, the City of Kelowna is working on several components of the ORT, says Michelle Kam, the city’s sustainability coordinator and member of the interjurisdictional development team.

* The timing for paving the rough gravel surface in the North End between Gordon Drive and Manhattan Drive is being discussed.

* Friends of the Okanagan Rail Trail (FORT) launched its Trail Ambassador pilot program during the Canada Day weekend. FORT’s mandate includes supporting trail enhancement as well as facilitating and providing stewardship of the trail, she said.

* “In marketing and communications, we have received a Destination BC grant which includes developing a website and social media plan,” she said.

* As per the June 10 city council report, three interpretive sites are being constructed in 2019 at Carney Pond in Kelowna (north end of Adams Road), Ribbleworth Falls in Lake Country and at kilometre 3.7 near Coldstream.

* Wayfinding signage will be installed along the entire trail starting in the next few weeks.

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On July 18, Regional District of Central Okanagan directors gave conditional approval to an application submitted to FrontCounter BC by the Ministry of Forests’ Recreation Site and Trails branch, which proposes to build, maintain, rehabilitate and legally designate an existing recreation site and hiking trails on 48 hectares of Crown land at Sugarloaf Mountain.

Should the province consider approval, the regional board requested that source water be protected; that pit toilets comply with sewage regulations; and that any construction falling within the BC Building Code require a permit from the regional district.

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A correction is needed for the recent Outdoors page feature on the 19th annual Penticton Dragon Boat Festival which will offer a beverage garden with food vendors, entertainment and a marketplace. Proceeds from the beer garden, not the festival, will go to Survivorship — the South Okanagan’s Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team.

Approximately 80 teams — more than 2,000 athletes — will participate in 500-metre sprint races during the Sept. 6-8 festival. Teams come from all over B.C with a handful of teams from Alberta. Dragon boat racing will take place on 11-kilometre-long Skaha Lake.

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Visitors to Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna will notice construction activity during the next few weeks.

From now until the middle of the month, the area around the short foot bridge over the spawning channel near the Kokanee Bridge Information Kiosk will be closed as the pedestrian bridge is removed and replaced.

Access to the Turtle Pond Trail in this section of the park will also be closed while the work is underway. Visitors can get to the Turtle Pond Trail by using the foot bridge approximately 170 metres upstream and either the Kokanee and Pine Loop trails.

As well through mid-August, crews with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will be cleaning the spawning channel and the associated settling pond in the park. Each year, any material that is deposited in the channel by the spring runoff is removed and the gravel in the channel is cleaned by high-pressure washers to improve the potential for successful spawning by the land-locked salmon. All work is expected to be complete ahead of the annual kokanee spawning season.

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In the North Okanagan, electoral area C (BX/Silver Star) is supporting Sovereign Lake Nordic Club with a $25,000 contribution toward a new groomer. A cheque was presented to GM Troy Hudson on July 23 by Amanda Shatzko, electoral area C director for the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Sovereign Lake is the largest cross-country ski club in North America with more than 2,000 members and regularly hosts competitions with skiers from around the world. The 54-kilometre track is heavily utilized, and requires daily grooming and top-notch equipment.

When the SLNC learned the cost of a new groomer was around $450,000, it turned to the community for support.

“Investing in active and healthy lifestyles is important to me,” said Shatzko. “This new equipment will keep the track in good condition for years to come, will allow people of all ages and skill levels to participate in sport in our region, and attract tourism and contributions to the local economy. Donations are still needed so I encourage others to contribute to this excellent amenity in our own backyard.”

The grant from the RDNO was funded through federal gas tax funding.

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The lower portion of Glen Canyon Regional Park in West Kelowna will be closed for a few weeks ahead of the salmon spawning season.

Through Aug. 14, workers and equipment for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will replace the fish ladder structures in Powers Creek. The fish ladder system, used to assist spawning kokanee salmon, was damaged during the high water in the spring of 2017.

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You can bring your three- to five-year-olds to a free drop-in story and activity at Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at during August. Story Time in the Park stories will be followed by an exploration of nearby areas through a series of mini-nature walks.

No registration is required. Meet under the trees near the park playground at Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna. For more information, go to: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents, drop-in or call the Environmental Education Centre of the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.

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The underwater world is full of fascinating invertebrates for you to discover during Wild Water Critters.

You can get up close and personal with dragonfly nymphs, nematodes and freshwater shrimp by joining park interpreters on a pond dip on select Saturday afternoons from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in August. Check the Regional District of Central Okanagan Facebook page to find out which parks interpreters will be visiting.

For more information on this and other programs, check Your Guide to Regional Parks, go to the regional district website at regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EEC O at 250-469-6140.

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net