15 July 2011
Sometime in Penticton’s past, the meandering Okanagan River, which sprawled over quite a bit of territory and had a habit of flooding its banks during spring run-off, was “improved” by Penticton’s city fathers. A straight channel was dug from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake, with a dam at the Okanagan Lake end to control water flow. Later, the department of highways took advantage of this straight stretch, and put in a highway bypass, so that travelers would not have to take the leisurely drive through Penticton’s residential areas and downtown core.
Now folks in a rush can speed past Penticton (much to the distress of Penticton’s businesses), and, in the summer, enjoy the sight of countless numbers of more leisurely folks “floating the channel” in all manner of floatable devices.
What almost all of those folks miss, the speedy and the leisurely ones alike, is the remaining ox-bows of the Okanagan River, on the opposite side of the highway bypass. This really is a pity, because these cut-off bits of the river have become home to a wonderful variety of plants and waterfowl, as well as providing a home for many other creatures ranging from small critters like marmots, to larger ones like deer.
Today’s snapshots provide you a glimpse of some of the beauty you’ll find if you take an east turn off the bypass (at Green Road or Warren Avenue, for example), turn onto the first side street you come to, park your vehicle, and find your way through paths to the oxbows on the east side of the bypass. Enjoy!