After six days of 30 C temperatures in the Okanagan, spring returned this week with the threat of spring showers. The return of more moderate temperatures was great since it was Bike To Work Week.

The Trail of the Okanagans Society has planned a bike ride for 11 a.m. on Sunday from the Summerland Bike Hub in Memorial Park along the recently-improved Garnet Valley Road.

Organizers describe it as “a pleasant 11-kilometre ride along a scenic paved road with the option to continue for another seven km along gravel roads to the Fur Brigade Park Lookout.”

Snacks will be provided. As well, food will be available and festivities held before and after the ride in Memorial Park, thanks to Action Fest.

Participants should arrive at the Bike Hub at 10:30 a.m. to sign up. Donations towards development of the Trail of the Okanagans will be accepted.

This ride qualifies as a GoByBike BC ride. You can register and enter your kilometres at biketowork.ca/summerland and join the team of Brigade Riders.

This event is organized by the Trail of the Okanagans Society, the Summerland Bike To Work Week committee and the District of Summerland in co-ordination with Action Fest. Go to: facebook.com/OKTrail for updates.

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The Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club will hold its June End-Of-The-Year annual picnic at 4:30 p.m. on June 12 at

Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna.

As in previous years, the June regular meeting will be a potluck wind-up picnic rather than a formal meeting. The regional park’s picnic shelter has been reserved from 3 to 7 p.m. in case of rain. Members should bring chairs, plates, bowls, mugs, cutlery and food to share.

A pre-picnic hike will be held at 3:15 p.m. starting at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO). George Scotter will take interested members on a 90-minute hike that will include the turtle pond, the children’s fishing pond and the Southland Hills Trail.

There should be some interesting summer plants along the way and there are a few small ponds that provide habitat for birds. The hike will be easy and suitable for most CONC members, says Scotter.

There may be more soap opera-style stories about the club birdhouses erected recently in Scenic Canyon near the Field Road parking lot (just past Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Club) in Kelowna.

“Over the past two weeks, there have been developments at the birdhouses,” club president Rick Gee recently emailed members. “Swallows, wrens and bluebirds have shown interest. The wrens were so interested they threw out the nest and eggs of a bluebird and then took the birdhouse for themselves.”

There will be no CONC newsletters in July and August, but they will be back starting in September.

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A reminder that the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club will hold its Fintry Fun Weekend on June 15-17. Members can camp at Pod 3, the largest site for large groups at Fintry Provincial Park on Westside Road.

There is lots of room for campers, tents and vehicles, but no electrical hook-ups. Drinking water and bathrooms are available at the pod. Check-in time is after 1 p.m. on Friday, June 15, and check-out is 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 17.

If only coming for a day trip, members will be paddling around 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Those interested can also paddle again after lunch. Lunch will be provided by KCKC and everyone is invited to share a potluck supper on Saturday evening.

Campers can pay $20.01 through the website. There is no cost for day paddlers.

“This is a fun, relaxing weekend and a great chance to get to know fellow paddlers. There will also be games to play. There shouldn’t be any fire restrictions so Friday and Saturday evening is a gathering around the fire pit,” says membership director Shirley Regan.

The deadline for registration is June 8. A total of 25 campers are needed. Email kckcevents@gmail.com or phone Regan at 250-300-3445 if you are coming for either the day or the weekend.

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Each Saturday from June through August, you can join an interactive treasure hunt with the new Geocaching at the EECO program.

The whole family can get involved each Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m. Borrow a GPS for a $5 deposit from EECO staff and search the forest in Mission Creek Regional Park for hidden geocaches. However, you must pre-register for this free program.

For more information and to register, go to: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents, drop-in or call the EECO at 250-469-6140.

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Registration started on Thursday at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan for this summer’s Nature Camps.

This popular half-day morning summer program for youngsters returns during July and August with camps for youth aged three to eight. There are two special programs for pre-school children age three and four years running on the mornings of July 3-6 and Aug. 7-10.

The camps use Mission Creek Regional Park as a backdrop for fun, active indoor and outdoor activities with a focus on environmental education to foster an appreciation for the natural environment.

For more information on camp dates and registration prices, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks, go online to regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

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The free weekly walking club for moms and caregivers with babies and little ones returns with a summer edition.

Roll and Stroll is a great opportunity to meet other parents and spend time casually exploring Mission Creek Regional Park,

located at Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna.

Each Thursday morning starting June 7 until July 26, participants will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO), then enjoy a leisurely 45-minute walk through the park before returning to the EECO for refreshments. Participants are encouraged to use strollers and baby carriers that are suitable for rough terrain. The program is free but registration is required by calling the EECO at 250-469-6140 or email eeco@cord.bc.ca.

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You can delve into a bit of local history, then let your artistic juices flow at Gibson Heritage House in Kopje Regional Park on Carrs Landing Road in Lake Country.

Gibson House is open for tours from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday starting June 24 continuing through August.

Regional parks staff and volunteers will guide you through the 1912 heritage house which has been restored and refurnished through community donations.

This year, the regional district is also celebrating a new Art in the Park program from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Sunday through August. You can create your own watercolour masterpieces as staff provide all the materials you’ll need in this family-friendly program.

For more information, go to regionaldistrict.com/parks, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks or contact the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.

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Regional Parks is excited to

offer a new program exploring mindfulness as a way to experience the natural beauty in Central Okanagan regional parks.

A certified facilitator will guide participants in the Forest Therapy Nature Walks using the concepts of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku, a cornerstone of preventative healthcare and healing in Japan.

Learning how to be more mindful in nature can help you can decompress, slow down and become more self-aware.

Research suggests consistent exposure to a forest setting can boost your immune system.

The guide will lead you through each park at a slower pace than you might be used to with a conventional park visit with the intent to relax and immerse yourself in a forest atmosphere. Participants are invited to register for all three sessions.

These walks run on three Saturday mornings between 10 a.m. and noon, and require pre-registration at a cost of $30 for all three sessions or $15 for individual walks. The walks are: June 16 in Scenic Canyon Regional Park, June 23 in KLO Creek Regional Park and June 30 in Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park

There’s a maximum of 10 people for each walk. To register, drop in to the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO) in Mission Creek Regional Park at Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna, email eeco@cord.bc.ca or phone 250-469-6140.

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Before you go out for a walk in your favourite regional park, do you take a few minutes to gather some important items? Do you take some water, additional clothing in case the weather changes, a first-aid kit and your mobile device? How about sunscreen and bug juice? Outdoor knowledge and safety are important considerations when visiting any park or forested area.

The new Nature Smarts — Okanagan Edition exhibit can help you with tips to be better prepared for your next outing.

You can check it out at the EECO centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

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Every summer, it’s the same problem: too many people chasing far too few campsites. Now, there is something new.

“The Airbnb of camping is now in Canada,” says Guita Yazdani, co-founder of Campertunity with Nora Lozano.

“Booking a campsite on government campgrounds has become so aggressive and competitive that it has led to reservation scalping, undue stress and a need for change. This is why we created Campertunity, an online platform that enhances camping experiences by allowing private landowners to list their land for campers to book. Campers now have more campsite options and less stress in booking by being able to book a campsite on private land.”

Campers can go beyond crowded provincial campgrounds and avoid expensive campsite resale, says Lozano. “More options for campers are available even in busy summer months and landowners can make an income while introducing the world to their backyard.”

For more information, check out the website: campertunity.com or email: guita@campertunity.com

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Information on B.C. Parks’ permit applications and issued permits is now available to view online as part of the new public notification and engagement policy that came into effect on Jan. 30.

The policy, shaped through public consultation, will better inform the public about park-use permits and what permit applications are currently being reviewed. It also provides guidelines for public notification and public input.

The aim is to ensure transparency on decisions to authorize activities within parks as well as increase awareness of permitted activities within parks by reaching a much larger audience. The new process will be similar to the current park boundary adjustment consultation process.

On average, B.C. Parks receives 300-400 park-use permit applications each year. Of those, approximately 50 per cent are for commercial use purposes such as guide outfitting or fishing tours.

To view information on B.C. Parks permits, go to env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/permits/

parks-use-permit-info.html

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The annual Shuswap Trails Party and Fundraiser earlier in the year raised $36,000 setting in motion another ambitious year of trail projects.

The 2018 projects include: 10 new trails for hiking, mountain biking, equestrian and snowshoeing use; further planning in all four directions of the region, including better recreational management in the eastern alpine areas; and support for the newly acquired Sicamous-to-Armstrong Rail Trail.

The funds are leveraged with matching grants, donations, in-kind contributions, dedicated community project budgets and and volunteer time to grow local greenway trails throughout the region, said STA board chair Reg Walters.

“The Shuswap Trail Alliance has supported the growth of over 120 kilometres of new greenway trails throughout the Shuswap valued at over $2 million dollars since 2005.”

2017 was a banner year for Shuswap trails. Trail volunteers with many partners successfully added 10 new trails totalling more than 12,000 metres, and installed more than 300 new signs.

“We have an incredibly hard-working and flexible team, incredible partners, and an impressive community of volunteers and stewardship organizations,” said Walters.

To get details and directions, go to: shuswaptrails.com.

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired Okanagan Weekend reporter and an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column appears every Saturday. Email: jp.squire@telus.net.

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