Controversial Vernon area intersection upgrades set to begin

Controversial Vernon area intersection upgrades set to begin
By Megan Turcato North Okanagan Reporter
Global News 18 April 2018

Upgrades to make the intersection of Stickle Road and Highway 97 safer are set to begin next week.

The start of the project just north of Vernon comes after years of controversy.

There have been public consultations and the province has developed at least three different plans for the intersection.

However, what none of those plans included was what many local businesses wanted: a traffic light.

Instead, the planned upgrades solve the problem of dangerous left turns off of Stickle Road onto the highway by simply not allowing them.

At one nearby business, it’s left some feeling like the province wasn’t listening.

“It is just a little disheartening that we spend all the money and have all the open houses and everything and all the people come to voice their opinions and yet their opinions don’t seem like they are honestly listened to,” Randy James, general manager of Vernon Motorsports, said.

However, the province said it took the public consultation very seriously.

“We specifically had our design reviewed by an independent engineering firm,” Steve Sirett from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said.

“The review did come out saying that the signal would lead to an increase in rear-end collisions and supported the design that we are now moving forward with.”

Since left turns onto the highway will be blocked, the upgrades include a new road connection from Stickle Frontage Road to 20 Street to help motorists get back into Vernon.

However, that too, has been controversial because it involved the destruction of wetland.

“It is pretty much decimated. There is a little bit still around the creek but nothing like it used to be,” Harold Sellers, the former president of the
North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, said.

However, the province said new wetland, three times larger than what was lost, will be created near Swan Lake. For Sellers, it’s a net positive.

“We would have preferred to have kept the original wetland of course, but the work that is going to be done at Swan Lake will be very beneficial,” Sellers said.

Nest a real 'chick magnet'

Nest a real 'chick magnet'
Josh Winquist - Apr 13, 2018

Don't wait too long to swoop in, this new, move-in-ready dwelling in the North Okanagan won't be empty for long.

A brand new, spacious aerie has just become available on the east side of Swan Lake.

Being billed as a real chick magnet, this nest offers a 360-degree birdseye view of Swan Lake and the surrounding area.

The developers hope to attract a pair willing to make this perch their home.

On April 6, a new osprey nesting platform and pole was erected. A similar structure collapsed due to age and wood rot in the last year.

The replacement structure was designed to look like a nest, with wood branches secured on top of the platform to attract osprey.

Ospreys are one of a wide range of waterfowl and other birds who make the Swan Lake foreshore their home.

The new nest was made possible with efforts from North Okanagan Naturalists' Club, Aerial Contractors who provided the specialized equipment and a crew to carry out this work, and the property owner who allowed the nest to be set up.

Naturalists build osprey nesting platform

Naturalists build osprey nesting platform
Salmon Arm Observer
April 8, 2018

North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club members and Aerial Contractors Ltd. built a nest near Swan Lake

A local club is working hard to help Swan Lake fowl.

The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club alongside a two-person crew from Aerial Contractors Ltd. of Salmon Arm installed an osprey — one of a wide range of waterfowl and other birds who call Swan Lake home — nesting platform and pole on the east side of Swan Lake April 6.

“This replaces a similar structure installed in 1994 which collapsed due to age and wood rot in the past year,” said Rod Drennan, one of three club volunteers who participated in the installation.

“The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club would like to acknowledge and thank Aerial Contractors for their generous contribution of specialized equipment and a crew to carry out this work.”


Nest boxes for birds; yea or nay?

Nest boxes for birds; yea or nay?

North Okanagan Naturalist Club explores the idea of nest boxes for birds

Roger Knox, Vernon MorningStar, Mar. 14, 2018

Is building a nest box for birds a good idea?

Birds face all kinds of problems trying to raise young but one of the biggest is the invasive house sparrow, introduced from Europe more than 100 years ago.

They weren’t in Vernon in the 1950s when residents lived in town on extra large lots and bluebirds came and nested in their yards. However, today, Vernon is filled with house sparrows and unfortunately they are cavity-nesting birds like many of our native species such as bluebirds, chickadees, violet-green swallows, tree swallows, house wrens and nuthatches etc.

House sparrows are extremely aggressive and prevent the native species from successful nesting and raising their young. Eventually the native species leave the area.

Many people build and put up nest boxes with the best intentions of helping the birds but after a time the houses usually go unchecked and forgotten.

It’s easy to think, “I put up a box, the birds can take care of themselves, I’ll leave it to nature”. Other people with good intentions may put up a box in an area where there are house sparrows.

The house sparrows invariably enter the box, evict or kill the adult bluebirds, wwallows, wrens, chickadees etc. and build their nest over top of the eggs or babies in the nest. When you put up a nest box you have made a commitment to monitoring it, to watch over the birds inside to see that the box is a safe place and doing what it’s supposed to do: help the birds produce more generations of birds to carry on the species.

Monitoring a nest box or a nest box trail can be educational and many times incredibly rewarding.

The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club (NONC) has operated a Bluebird Nest Box Program for more than 25 years and manages 18 nest box trails on farms and ranch lands in the surrounding Vernon area. The trails are called bluebirds trails to help bring back the Bluebird which had declined in North America dramatically due to DDT spraying, loss of habitat and the introduction of non-native house sparrows and starlings which filled existing nesting sites.

However, the trails are actually Nest Box Trails as they are for other cavity nesting species that utilize the same sized nest hole as bluebirds such as chickadees, swallows, wrens, and nuthatches.

The Nest Box Trails have from eight to 40 boxes which are placed on fence posts and spaced 100 metres or more apart. Each March the monitors check all boxes for leaks, gaps, damage etc, and make necessary repairs. Once the boxes are occupied weekly monitoring throughout the nesting period takes place.

Any problems during the long summer are dealt with as they arise, for example, if wasps and ants invade the nests they will cause birds to desert their young.

The swan and eagle count is in

The swan and eagle count is in

The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club has been busy counting swans and eagles

Vernon MorningStar Feb. 18, 2018

Naturalists all over the North Okanagan took part in the 2018 Swan and Eagle Count, and the results are in.

The count took place in the greater Vernon area Jan. 14 with the results as follows:

Bald eagles — 125 (100 adults, 25 sub-adult)

Golden eagles — 2 (2 adults)

Trumpeter swans — 118 (109 adults, 9 immature)

Tundra swans – zero

We had 31 participants covering four routes with a total of 127 eagles and 118 swans observed during this year’s count, with three of the four focal species seen. These numbers were down from 2017 when we had 184 bald eagles, eight golden eagles and 160 swans.

The majority of the birds were observed on the Vernon-Sicamous route with a count of 66 bald eagles and 98 trumpeter swans.

The other routes were Coldstream, the south end of Mabel Lake, Enderby-Kingfisher, Mabel Lake and Vernon area where 59 bald eagles, two bald eagles and 20 trumpeter swans were counted. Sub-adult eagles were observed on all of the routes while immature swans were only seen on the Vernon-Sicamous route and in the Vernon area.

Join us again next year when we convene on Jan. 13, 2019 to count swans and eagles! Until then, happy birding and enjoy yourself enjoying nature. For more information, please contact Aaron Deans, Swan & Eagle Count coordinator for the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club.