This year will mark 22 years since I started writing an outdoors column called Trail Mix for the Kelowna Capital News, and this will be the last one as I transition into early retirement.
If you didn’t make a single other resolution for 2014, do resolve to do your part to support at least one of the many organizations working to keep natural areas remaining around the Okanagan in a natural state, both for our recreational enjoyment and also as habitat for wild critters of all sorts.
All rely on volunteers and donations to keep their organizations running, so whichever you can supply to help them keep going would be worthwhile.
For instance, the Friends of the South Slopes is an umbrella organization started by and made up of mountain bikers, hikers, naturalists, runners, horsemen and a variety of other outdoors lovers, who are responsible, in an agreement with B.C. Parks, for maintenance in both Myra-Bellevue and Okanagan Mountain provincial parks.
The aim is to promote minimal impact recreation by maintaining public facilities like trails and signs but preserving the environmental integrity of the south slopes.
You’re invited to the FOSS agm Thurs., Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park. Guest speaker at 7:30 will be B.C. Parks area supervisor Ryan Elphick, who will provide an update on management of trail development. He will answer questions about both parks, and his talk will be followed by the annual election and a discussion of both last year and the coming year’s FOSS activities.
Did you know that 44,352 visitors were counted at the Stewart Road East Trailhead last year? That’s up from 35,000 in 2012.
The Myra Canyon counter recorded 67,894 visitors.
With this kind of popularity, our local parks need the help and cooperation of all users to ensure these natural areas are not loved to death.
Our local cross country ski clubs also rely on volunteers for their very existence, so lend a hand on the board or a committee if you use the trails for either skiing or snowshoeing.
The Kelowna Nordic Club has organized a Moonlight Ski and Snowshoe evening for Sat., Jan. 11, beginning with a potluck supper at 5:30, followed by a singsong and a ski or snowshoe under the moon.
The 9th annual White Rabbit Showshoe Race at Crystal Mountain is set for Sat., Jan. 25, with not only the five and 10-kilometre races but also a family bonfire cookout and taffy on the snow, organized by Selah Outdoor Explorations. Go to: sites.google.com/site/selahoutdoorexplorations
Jordie and Laurie Bowen also organize a wide variety of snowshoe tours at Crystal Mountain, from learners’ events to hikes and cookouts, starlight snowshoe and fondues, ladies’ days and snowshoe and winery tours.
The Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club is featuring a talk on bats with biologist Tanya Luszuz of the Canadian Wildlife Service at the Tues., Jan. 14 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Evangel Church on Gordon Drive.
She studied bat habitat in forests for her degree and volunteers her time to give bat programs on such local features as the Peachland bats who inhabit the attic of the 103-year-old Peachland Primary School, now a municipal facility.
It’s estimated that more than 2,000 Yuma bats inhabit that roost, which is a maternity colony and may be the largest Yuma bat colony in the province.
Also in Peachland, the 29th annual Peachland Sportsmen’s Association game banquet and dance, a fund-raiser for the conservation efforts of the group, is set for Sat., Feb. 8, with doors open at 4 p.m.
It’s not only an evening of great food and entertainment, with MC Stuntman Steve to keep the night lively, but there’ll also be lots of great prizes including a salmon fishing trip for two at West Sport Fishing, a ladies diamond ring, rifles, iPad and more.
Tickets are available at Valley Glass and Antler Creek Sports in West Kelowna and A&C Sports in Kelowna, cash or cheque only.
The Kelowna Fish and Game Club is holding its annual family-oriented awards banquet Sat.,R Jan. 25, featuring a steak dinner, raffles for a rifle and bow and such awards as those for the first deer taken. If your son or daughter are in that category, be sure to get their names in by the middle of the month so they can be included. Contact the club at 764-7558 or email@example.com
Banquet tickets are available at the clubhouse or L&O Jewellers.
If you have antlers to be scored, be sure to get them in to Rudy Litz at L&O Jewellers on Dolphin Avenue before Jan. 17.
The Kelowna club has an active junior program, both for shooters and archers, including the latter as a feeder program for an Olympic program.
Whatever you choose to support, do get involved in one of the many organizations working to preserve, maintain or restore natural Okanagan features, and the best to you in the coming year.
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.