There was once an old oxbow along the Similkameen River that was a vibrant waterway. In the summer ducks nested in the reeds and children swam in the deeper spots. Each spring, the slough flooded bringing water and nutrients to the oxbow. Frogs mated, tadpoles thrived, and herons searched along the banks for food.
Beavers built lodges with the cottonwood saplings from the woods alongside the waterway. In the winter, the slough froze. Turtles slept in the mud at the bottom of the ponds while children skated on the ice above.
Over the years, the land was sold and subdivided and more people moved into the area. Roads were built and a bridge spanned the slough. After a flood the bridge was damaged and replaced by a road. The slough was cut in half and the culvert underneath was too small to keep the water flowing all year round.
Gradually the old slough began to fill with cattails and the open water got smaller and disappeared. More houses were built and the old trees and vegetation were cut down. People began to forget that beavers, ducks and dragonflies once lived here.
This is the story of Ginty’s Pond also called Cawston Slough, named after Ginty Cawston whose ranch ran along one side of the slough. Ginty was an avid outdoorsman, rancher, and naturalist who donated his portion of the slough to the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Fund Society
Several local conservation groups are working with local property owners and the neighbourhood around “Ginty’s Pond” to restore some of the native vegetation. Future plans might even involve restoring some of the natural water flow.
After many decades of ignoring or filling in small wetlands, there is a growing awareness that we need these small sloughs, ponds and seasonally flooded areas. Without them we will gradually lose the sounds of frogs croaking, Red-winged Blackbirds singing, and lose places for children and adults to enjoy a bit of nature.
If climate change trends continue, it is estimated that most wetland under two hectares will be in danger of drying up unless given some help. This spring there are a number of community stewardship projects planned where volunteers can help replant native vegetation, clear away invasive plants and restore wetland areas.
If you are interested in pitching in and learning more about the natural areas in the south Okanagan Similkameen,
Join us on Saturday April 09, 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Learn more about the special features of the pond and help plant native species where they once grew.
Meet at Skip and Leslie Pendleton’s, 465, Pitt Road Cawston
Event sponsored by: OSCA, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance
Phone Lee 250 499 5404 for information/register as snacks are provided.
– Submitted by Lee Mc fadyen