Munson Pond Naturalization Project
In the semi-arid Okanagan Valley, the protection and maintenance of wetlands is an essential strategy to strengthen a diminishing regional biodiversity. As the Central Okanagan comes under increasing pressure to densify, wetlands are often the first spaces to succumb to that pressure, and the resulting loss of habitat puts pressure on healthy species and puts species at risk in even further danger. The maintenance of these environmental values is recognized and supported through the City of Kelowna’s Official Community Plan in general and more specifically through by-laws to protect and enhance remaining wetland areas. Similarly, the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) mission statement turns directly around the type of environmental benefit that the Munson Pond Project affords the community.
• Munson Pond measures roughly 3.8ha of a newly acquired 9.8ha community park, centrally located in Kelowna’s South Pandosy/KLO sector. Historically, the pond is named for the Munson family who were pioneer farmers in the area from the early 1890s, and descendents of those pioneers continue to live in the neighborhood. Along the southern perimeter of the pond is an irrigation ditch that continues to feed the pond and harks back to the settlement era when many canals and flumes criss-crossed the valley floor.
• Valued for its bird watching opportunities of both migratory and resident bird populations, waterfowl habitat, and habitat for small amphibians, reptiles and mammals, Munson Pond is a tiny jewel in the region’s rapidly disappearing wetland inventory.
• Ecologically, the pond is a beautiful water body flanked on the south side by a mature remnant cottonwood forest. At one time, this black cottonwood/water birch ecological community covered much of the Okanagan lowlands but has been displaced by agriculture, urban development, and the channelization of streams and rivers. It is now a red listed (endangered) plant community and is ranked as one of the rarest in B.C.
• Within the EcoAction Guidelines, the Munson Pond Project addresses Environment Canada’s environmental priority issues most strongly under the ‘Nature’ heading. As such, the project goals aim to strengthen biodiversity, protect wildlife and plants, and improve habitat values. In addition, the proposed work plan will have incremental beneficial downstream effects on the other Environment Canada priorities of Clean Water, Clean Air, and Climate Change.
• Beyond the direct ecological benefits of the project, the work plan and deliverables are part of the COLT’s and the City of Kelowna’s mandate and strategy to inform and educate the public on the significant environmental value of wetlands in this dry climate.
• The Munson Pond Park Naturalization project will establish functioning riparian and upland ecosystems that encourage knowledge, education and conservation of wetlands, native plants communities, and habitats while providing for passive recreational opportunities such as nature appreciation and wildlife viewing.
Collaboration is generally a critical part of any equation to complete a project successfully, and COLT is pleased to have the support of the following companies, agencies, and community groups in this important work:
Environment Canada (EcoAction Canada)
City of Kelowna
The Colin and Lois Pritchard Foundation
Central Okanagan Naturalists Club
Kelowna Christian School
Oceola Fish and Game Club
Goals and Objectives
The Munson Pond Park Naturalization Project is a new initiative for the Central Okanagan Land Trust, and it is one that builds on many years of successful collaborative work with local government in general and the City of Kelowna and other partners in particular. This successful legacy will help us direct our energies and focus to the following goals and objectives:
• To protect existing natural habitat features of Munson Pond by ensuring a baseline biological inventory informs a management strategy for the site
• To improve habitat diversity for birds, mammals and other wildlife species by expanding and protecting a rare, red-listed wetland vegetative community
• To promote stewardship of an important regional wetland feature
• To provide opportunities for public enjoyment that are compatible with conservation in a safe manner, that also promotes environmental awareness and education.
• To construct wildlife viewing platforms that will be designed to encourage public access while, at the same time, avoid further degradation of the wetland habitats and values
• To expand the riparian area
• To remove encroachments within the riparian area
• To re-establish and expand upland forest
• To design and install wayfinding signage that promotes passive use of the park and path while identifying appropriate access
• To design and install interpretive signage that stimulates a healthy respect for Munson Pond as part of the region’s diminishing wetland resources and wildlife habitat regimes
• To install, where appropriate, bird houses, bat boxes, and raptor nesting poles/platforms
• To evaluate the project in a way that will allow us to determine best practices for community partnerships in the environment sector
• To help manage the spread of invasive plant species and minimize or eliminate noxious weeds
• To engage volunteer partners
Mission Creek Restoration Initiative
Mission Creek is the largest tributary of Okanagan Lake in terms of volume and fish habitat potential. The Mission Creek watershed is approximately 800 km2 with a main channel length of approximately 75km across the Okanagan Valley’s uplands and large fan adjacent to Okanagan Lake. With construction of flood protection dikes along the main channel in the 1950s, Mission Creek has lost more than 60% of its channel length on the fan, 80% of it spawning and rearing habitat, and 75% its wetland and riparian areas.
The Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI) is a multi-phase, multi-stakeholder partnership formed in 2008 to restore natural hydrological and biological functions and processes to the lower reaches of Mission Creek in the City of Kelowna, BC. The MCRI was primarily created to address kokanee stock decline in Okanagan Lake. Consequently, the goal of the MCRI is to improve native fish stocks that would in turn result in local recreational and economic benefits. This Mission Creek Restoration Initiative focuses on the lower 12 km of the mainstream channel from the East Kelowna Road Bridge to Okanagan Lake.
The Setback Dike Project was developed to improve hydrological function and connectivity, and spawning, rearing and holding habitat for native kokanee, rainbow trout and mountain whitefish. The proposed setback dike will be situated on a parcel of land adjacent to Mission Creek near Casorso Road that was purchased by the City of Kelowna. This project has been undertaken in conjunction with the MCRI, Urban Systems and LGL Limited (professional consulting firms), and the University of British Columbia. Survey data of the section were provided by the City of Kelowna.
The Setback Dike Project focuses on relocating a 475m section of dike on the south bank of the creek between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive. A setback distance of up to approximately 5 channel widths between the dikes will be feasible on the Mission Creek Setback Dike Project. This setback distance of up to approximately 150m will result in more defined pool-riffle-run habitats, well-sorted substrates, braided channels with numerous islands, and ecological interfaces of pools and riparian zones to provide stream-side cover and useable energy sources for large areas of functional fish habitat (i.e. pool, riffle and run mesohabitats with species-specific preferred depths, velocities, substrates and cover). The proposed design includes connecting an existing side channel to the main channel so that it will have flows during most freshets. In addition, there are two overflow weirs that will allow flow from the main channel to re-water the existing side channel as well as four meander notches that have been strategically located to coincide with existing point bars along the north bank of the main channel. The upstream meander notch includes one of the overflow weirs and the second notch is connected to the side channel to provide for overflow to the main channel and provide access for fish at all flows. Large woody debris (LWD) cover structures will be added to each of the meander notches. The LWD will be sourced from trees salavaged during removal of the existing dike or during construction of the proposed setback dike. No instream work is scheduled during the removal of the existing dike and construction of the new dike is scheduled to occur between November 2015 and March 31, 2016. The construction of the overflow weirs and meander notches are scheduled for 2016 during the normal instream work window for Mission Creek. Source: Mission Creek Restoration Initiative Project – D. Dobson. November 2015
In 2015, the Central Okanagan Land Trust made a funding application to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans program entitled Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program. That application was successful in the maximum amount of $249,000+. These funds have allowed the leveraging of other environment funds and donations to bring the total to well more than $500,000 – enough to get the project under way for this critical first stage of work.
To keep up to date on work underway on this and other projects supported by the Central Okanagan Land Trust, please visit our website at www.coltrust.ca and follow us on Facebook at Central Okanagan Land Trust.