Wetlands, Not Wastelands: A Workshop for Municipal and Regional Stakeholders in the Okanagan (September 30, 2015)


Note to Reader:

BCWF logoThe BC Wildlife Federation’s Wetlands Education Program (WEP) helps build the capacity of British Columbian citizens to determine their backyard wetland assets, and increase their community’s environmental health using this knowledge.

On September 30, Vernon is the venue for a Working Group Workshop to Conserve and Enhance Wetlands in the Okanagan.

The workshop is designed for Municipal and Regional staff, planners and consultants involved in wetland mapping projects, urban development, policy and permitting, and/or watershed planning.

Image Credit: Jim Dumont

Image Credit: Jim Dumont

“Wetland Conservation in the Okanagan is a workshop for municipal and regional stakeholders,” states Neil Fletcher, Chair, Wetlands Stewardship Partnership

occp logoThe BC Wildlife Federation, an active member of the Wetlands Stewardship Partnership, is working with the OCCP (Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program) to deliver a Municipal and Regional Wetland Conservation Workshop. They have brought together a team to share their knowledge and experience. The team will speak on topics that support key municipal and regional staff and lead conservation groups who are working in the Okanagan.

Benefits of Wetlands

“Wetlands can provide a number of benefits to society, including: flood control, water treatment, and carbon storage,” states Neil Fletcher, Chair, Wetland Stewardship Partnership of BC, and Wetlands Education Program Coordinator for the BC Wildlife Federation. “Unfortunately, they are still threatened as a study of low elevation wetlands Neil Fletcher_head shot_120pin the Okanagan Basin has indicated a wetland loss of 38% between 1988 and 2010 (OBWB, Okanagan Wetland Strategy, 2014).”

“This workshop will explore gaps and opportunities on how we can protect and conserve wetlands and work towards healthier watersheds. Topics were selected to support key municipal and regional staff and lead conservation groups who are working in the Okanagan. In particular, the afternoon session on stormwater management will provide a more detailed look at one aspect of integrating wetlands into watershed planning. There will also be a site visit in the afternoon.”

Stormwater Pond & Management

Jim-Dumont1_June2015DSC_05358_120p“Engineers and Biologists use the term ‘wetland’ but they have very different visions in mind. We must seek to develop a common understanding in achieving the best possible solutions for all stakeholders,” states Jim Dumont, a leading water resource and infrastructure specialist in BC. His presentation will cover principles for integrating stormwater ponds plus considerations for design, maintenance, and landscape level planning.

Jim Dumont is the Engineering Applications Authority for the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, the not-for-profit society that is responsible for delivering the Water Sustainability Action Plan for BC.

Law & Policy

Jose Symonds_FLNRO_before trimmingThere are many gaps in wetland protection at the provincial level; local governments have the tools to address some of these gaps,” notes Josie Symonds, Ecosystems Biologist with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations. She will be discussing provincial legislation regarding wetlands in the Okanagan and where gaps can be addressed by municipalities under the Local Government Act.

Okanagan Wetland Strategy

Don Gayton_OBWB_120p“The OBWB’s wetland strategy message is to inventory, assess and prioritize Okanagan wetlands for restoration and enhancement, and to raise the profile of wetlands with the general public and local governments,” adds Don Gayton, Wetlands Stewardship Coordinator with the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

He will be discussing the Okanagan Wetland Strategy, which is a 3-phase effort to re-establish wetland ecosystems in the Okanagan. Phase 2 is currently in effect until March 2016.