Stewardship Biologist Valerie Blow planting a Common Snowberry earlier in 2021. Common snowberry is a small shrub that is an important part of a healthy riparian forest’s understory. (Submitted)

Stewardship Biologist Valerie Blow planting a Common Snowberry earlier in 2021. Common snowberry is a small shrub that is an important part of a healthy riparian forest’s understory. (Submitted)

Help restore riparian areas along Similkameen River

The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is hosting a replanting day Oct. 16

The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is looking for volunteers to help with restoring riparian land along the Similkameen River.

The OSSS is partnering with Mount Boucherie Estate Winery to turn some of the land from a newly purchased vineyard in Cawston back into functional floodplain and riparian forest.

Volunteers are invited to join in the replanting efforts on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at 2225 Newton Road in Cawston.

Riparian areas carry thick plant growth along streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds where they are an important, but dwindling, resource for both people and wildlife. Urban and agricultural development has resulted in over 85 per cent of riparian habitats in the Okanagan being lost, according to the OSSS.

When it comes to water quality, these areas of vegetation are the last line of defense for water that’s running off the land into lakes and streams. Healthy riparian areas help filter out pollutants and sediment from runoff. The roots from trees, underbrush and other lush vegetation help stabilize banks, decrease soil erosion, and aid in flood protection by slowing and absorbing high stream flows.

People aren’t the only ones who benefit from these healthy habitats; they are also extremely important for wildlife. Nearly 75 per cent of all Okanagan species depend on riparian habitats or use them regularly.

They provide food, shelter, water, nesting sites, and important wildlife corridors. Forests along the edges of water courses and water bodies help shade the water and keep it cooler during the hot summer months, which is vital for fish like salmon that breed in streams and rivers.

For more information and to RSVP, in order to keep the day COVID-19 safe, you can email info@osstewardship.ca or call 250-770-1467.

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Environment