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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Okanagan Valley Writers Festival April 9

A wonderful final day of the Okanagan Valley Writers Festival! Enjoy the photos!

For more information about the event, check out the OVWF website and the OVWF Facebook page.

If you’d like hi-res copies of any of these photos, send me an email listing the row of the photos and the number in the row (eg 1st 2nd 3rd) … OR send me your email address and I can Dropbox all the photos to you 🙂

 

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Okanagan Valley Writers Festival April 8 Part 2

More pics from day 2 of this wonderful festival! If you want copies of any of the pictures, please email me, listing the row # (from the top) and the number(s) in the row (1st 2nd 3rd). Thanks.

Update on the Brandon Street Oxbow

In the past, I have posted photos and commentary on the Okanagan River oxbow at the foot of Brandon Avenue. Much of the oxbow was extremely overgrown with bulrushes, and filled with silt from street runoff. Fortunately, the City of Penticton, working with the Friends of the Oxbows society and other concerned citizen groups, has placed a filter in the run-off collector at the foot of Brandon, to prevent more silt buildup. Once that was done, this oxbow underwent a major reconstruction, bringing it back to much the way the Okanagan River oxbows must have looked prior to being cut off when the “channel parkway” was put through from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake, with the highway running along beside it.

As Friends of the Oxbows member, Randy Manuel, explains: The City of Penticton and the Penticton Indian Band cooperated in the removal of 360+ cubic meters of debris, sand from street runoff, and overgrown bulrushes. Now we have a very vibrant oxbow at the foot of Brandon Avenue, with nature returning. Where machines had to access the oxbow from the west (reserve) side, their intrusion has been replanted with riparian plants.

I took a walk down to this oxbow today and took some snapshots. In the following photos, you will see the amazing difference from just 7 months ago, with before (April 2016) and after (November 2016) photos! (You can see other posts about this oxbow at “Perfect Time to See the Oxbows,” “Oxbows or Progress?” and “Penticton Oxbows Tour“). To get a really clear view of the photos, click on the first one, and then you can click through them with larger and brighter views. You will also notice that in the “barren” area where the machinery had to come in, there are wire containers, each of which has a riparian plant native to this area. The final photo shows a view of the new container growth from above.

Green Okanagan Summer

This summer of 2016 is the greenest Okanagan summer I have ever seen … and I’ve lived in the Okanagan, or visited it in the summer, for most of my 61 years. The weather has been pleasant, but it hasn’t had the usual Okanagan heat. Oh yes, it did start off with a hot spell, mid to high 30s Celcius, in early May, and folks were predicting a long dry summer, drought, and probably wildfires.

But ever since then, we’ve had mostly pleasant mid-20s days, with summer showers often enough to keep the hillsides green–hillsides that are normally brown by early June. Now we are into August and they are just starting to brown. Every so often we have a few days in the low 30s, but even then, they’ve often been accompanied by thunderstorms with downpours just strong enough to prevent any major fires from lightning strikes. Most summers here in Penticton we’re under strict water regulations by early July, but this summer we’ve hardly needed to water our lawns and gardens.

What’s really amazing is the changes in the natural vegetation. Trees and bushes have sprung up. creating green oases where normally one night find thin, scraggly vegetation. The oxbows are coated in thick algae in any places–so thick that the usual ducks, turtles, and other wildlife have moved away. Even in more open water in the oxbows, there is far more floating vegetation than usual, and the bulrushes are tall and thick. The branches of berry bushes are hanging low, with heavy and very early crops such as I’ve not seen here before. The deer and bears are going to be plenty fat before winter comes.Even tree trunks have unusual growth of moss.

Gardens are amazing, too. Everywhere you look, there are amazing tall, thick-stemmed sunflowers. The fruit crops gave been thick and heavy-laden–and far earlier than usual. Despite very little watering, compared to normal summers, strawberries and vegetables are amazing. Along fence lines, flowers and crops are escaping their bounds.

What do you think? Is this just an unusual summer, or is this part of climate change? The thing is, the past few summers have been drier and drier, and the Okanagan has experienced some pretty devastating wildfires … yet now we’ve had a summer that, while pleasant, has definitely not reflected our semi-desert reputation!

Autumn changes

It truly is autumn today.  Early November and the snow line creeps lower down the hillsides morning by morning. Skies are gray, mostly, though the sun bravely pokes through when it gets the chance. It rains most nights, and creek beds dried up in summer are filling with small ponds in low-lying spots. Trees have shed their leaves and their branches are skeletal against the sky. Birds’ nests, hidden all summer, are suddenly clearly seen, as barren and empty as the branches that support them, the chicks grown and departed. On the ground, however, is a glorious riot of oranges, reds, yellows, and shiny browns, crunching underfoot and letting loose the damp-autumn-leaf scents that awaken happy memories of autumns past.

In the wild woods on the east end of Lion’s Park, someone has been hacking away at the underbrush. Daylight rushes into places that have been dark and tangled for a long time. Dead brush lies scattered on the ground; hopefully whoever chopped it down will have the foresight to return and remove it before summer dryness returns and a carelessly tossed spark from a cigarette, or from a transient’s campfire, starts a wildfire. Perhaps a letter to the public works department is in order.

 

Oxbows or Progress

This morning I thought I’d take a walk along the path between the oxbows and the highway, from Kinney Avenue to Green Avenue. Back in May I took in the “Friends of the Oxbows Tour” (part of the annual Meadowlark Festival in the South Okanagan), and posted photos and descriptions then. So my plan today was to take autumn photos of this particular part of the oxbows tour. I’d been through there in the summer, and except for the increased dryness, things were pretty much the same.

But sadly, it seems that “progress” is more important than maintaining the increasingly small areas of green space in our city, whether it be plans to turn several acres of lakeshore park into waterslides, or expand the highway to allow a new access across the channel–and slice off a good chunk of the oxbow trail in the process. Not to mention that in some spots the broadened highway and fence that runs alongside it leaves only a foot or two of space beside oxbows, surely breaking bylaws related to riparian space beside waterways. Oh, and did I mention that you can no longer walk all the way to Green Avenue; a fence has been placed across the path to prevent people enjoying the oxbow in that area, which has been so generously cared for by the resident on its east side. But that’s okay–several areas of the path are now so narrow that one must hang onto the fence to prevent sliding down into the oxbow below. (Click on the pictures to see full size!)

To top all this off, all along the new fencing and highway extension, the workers have tossed into the riparian areas next to the oxbows, the wooden stakes used as markers during the construction. I suppose they reasoned that the markers are biodegradable (well, maybe except for the plastic tags tied around them!), so no problem. No problem if you don’t mind setting an example to locals and tourists of how to litter. Fortunately, I saw potential for them as garden posts, and I picked up all the ones still in good shape and dropped them off to a neighbour who has a large garden. A number of broken stakes are still scattered along the oxbow path; I suppose it would be too much to ask the city fathers to send someone out to gather them? (I’d have gathered all of them, but a person my size and age can only carry so much).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I also see that the oxbows are even more overgrown than they were this spring, and I don’t see the city making any effort to dredge the “introduced” species which are taking over the open water so necessary to birds and wildlife. Maybe if they get overgrown enough, they can be filled in and become locations for more waterslides? Hmmm!

Thankfully, mother nature still manages to show her beauty despite mankind’s best efforts to provide progress and tidy up nature’s wildness–as you can see below.

Thanksgiving Weekend in Penticton

These Thanksgiving weekend snapshots were taken on October 10 2015 in my neighborhood … mostly at the oxbow at the foot of Baskin Street and Warren Avenue. Such a beautiful place; so much to be thankful for!