Vaseux Lake ‘crux’ in Osoyoos to Penticton trail

Regional directors heard Thursday the highly sensitive area of Vaseux Lake is challenging for trails

  • Jan. 18, 2019 2:31 p.m.

Although Vaseux Lake is one of the most beautiful parts of a proposed trail system that would link Penticton to Osoyoos it’s also proving one of the most challenging to secure.

“That five kilometre section is one of the real keys and cruxes in making this thing work,” said Tennessee Trent, trails manager with the Ministry of Forests told the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen board Thursday.

Related: Master plan maps out future of region’s trails

The area around Vaseaux Lake includes a 12-hectare provincial park, a federal bird sanctuary and the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife area, which is managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. There are other conservation efforts going on in the area including land acquired by Nature Trust of British Columbia, the Land Conservancy of B.C. and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The area is home to more than 40 at-risk mammals, plants, reptiles and birds including the night snake – the rarest snake in Canada.

A break down of endangered species includes 10 red listed plant ecosystems (Antelope brush, big sage, bluebunch wheatgrass, water birch, balsamroot, pinegrass, threetip sagebrush, red osier dogwood, Idaho fescue and marsilea), seven blue and two red listed mammals (including California bighorn sheep, badger and Pallid bat), and five blue listed reptiles.

Trent along with representatives from EBB Consulting, were tasked with doing an environmental review of the Osoyoos to Penticton trail. The trail includes a mix of sections of the KVR, other trail systems and some yet-to-be developed trails including the section around Vaseux Lake.

Although in-depth analysis shows that from an environmental perspective creating a trail on the east side of Vaseux Lake would have less of an environmental impact, it wouldn’t be as appealing and would be costly.

Related: Bird’s eye view at Vaseux Lake

Trent said the east side would need increased infrastructure including boardwalks and raised trails would need to be built to overcome existing challenges including the rock shore, bluffs and the highway.

Directors heard property for a trail was secured on the west side of the lake back in the mid-1990s but development has been at a standstill with federal and provincial interests in the area.

“We have to partner with the environment interest both within the provincial and federal governments as well outside the governments if we are going to have a hope of making it (the west side trail) work. I do believe it’s possible personally,” Trent said.

Ron Obirek, director for Area D (Skaha East and Okanagan Falls) said he’s “thrilled” that the west side option might happen. He told fellow directors people were already using the west side although there was not a proper trail in place.

“The truth and reality is there’s already been activity on the west side,” he said.

The RDOS board will be updated more as things continue on securing and developing more parts of the trail from Penticton to Osoyoos.

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