Society cleaning up

The Okanagan SImilkameen Stewardship Society is hosting a clean up Max Lake, a small protected wetland above West Bench.

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This weekend, the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is hosting a community enhancement day in a little-known wetland area near Penticton

Max Lake is a small protected wetland above West Bench. It’s one of the few remaining marshes in the Penticton area, providing habitat for 38 species of dragonflies including the rare Vivid Dancer damselfly.

Flammulated owls, common poorwills, tiger salamanders, painted turtles and many other wildlife species also make their homes here.

Over five hectares of privately-owned land around the Max Lake wetland area is protected by a conservation covenant held by The Land Conservancy and Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

The protection of Max Lake is significant, given its rich biodiversity, and the fact that over 85 per cent of the wetland and riparian habitats that once existed within the South Okanagan-Similkameen have been lost. The Regional District is installing bluebird, swallow and bat boxes around the lake to help with mosquito control.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 6 the OSS is encouraging volunteers of all ages to assist with garbage clean-up and invasive weed removal. Work gloves, equipment and garbage bags will be provided as well as tea, coffee and snacks. Long pants and closed shoes are recommended since there is poison-ivy in some areas.

People joining the clean-up are encouraged to bring binoculars and enjoy a walk along the marsh before starting work. Local biologists working with the OSS will profile some of the species that live at Max Lake.

The OSS promotes voluntary conservation, stewardship and enhancement of important habitat on private land and within communities in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Volunteers gather at least once a year at Max Lake to help control invasive weeds and clean up the area.

To reach the site, travel along West Bench Drive, following Bartlett Road to Westhills Aggregates and onto Max Lake Road. Contact okanaganstewardship@gmail.com for further details.  Funding for this project has been provided by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Wildlife Habitat Canada.