Vaseux–Bighorn National Wildlife Area Management Plan: chapter 9

9. Collaborators

Many of the programs and projects described within the National Wildlife Areas (NWA) have involved collaborative arrangements between the Canadian Wildlife Services (CWS) and Vaseux basin stakeholders. These arrangements include formal and informal agreements that have enabled many programs in the NWA. Ongoing and continued collaboration with the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program and its members represents the bulk of collaborative arrangements in which the CWS is presently engaged in the Vaseux area.

Several member organizations of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program have expressed interest in continuing cooperation with the CWS on this NWA, including the Government of British Columbia, B.C. Wildlife Federation, Federation of B.C. Naturalists, South Okanagan Naturalist Club, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, Land Conservancy of B.C., and Nature Trust of B.C. In addition to providing significant funding for CWS projects such as the Vaseux Conservation Strategy, the Nature Trust of B.C. contributes to land management activities in the NWA. Cooperative arrangements with the Nature Trust have involved extensive coordination and management of in-the-field volunteer time, including post-2003 fire restoration projects and capital expenditures (e.g., fence postings). The Land Conservancy of B.C. has created many of their outreach and public education materials in collaboration with the CWS, has expressed a continued interest in supporting CWS-relevant outreach, and recognizes the possibility of expanding new stewardship activities in the South Okanagan, such as through their South Okanagan- Similkameen Stewardship Program (which involves contact with landowners).

At the north end of Vaseux Lake, situated in lowland riparian habitat, is the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory, which was established by the CWS in 1994 as one of the 23 stations across Canada that form the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network. This station is operated by the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, which monitors land bird migrations through the South Okanagan valley. Each summer, thousands of migratory birds, mainly songbirds, are captured and banded at this station. The station provides a long-term index of species diversity and abundances for birds using the Vaseux Lake area during migration. This station monitors western migrant species, including the Orange-crowned Warbler, Gray Catbird, Song Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, Audubon’s Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat.

In 1984, Ducks Unlimited Canada entered into a 30-year agreement with the CWS to undertake a water and vegetation management project within Vaseux’s Northwest Marsh Unit. With a long-term goal to restore oxbows and enhance waterfowl values, the project focused on infrastructure improvements. The agreement includes the completion of upgrades to the dyke system along 150 m of the water channel, and installation of a main pump station, intake line, and well, all near the south end of the marsh (Barnett 1993).

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