Good News!

The count is in and the numbers look good! Under the watchful eye of Carol Millar and her dedicated team of Black Mountain bluebird monitors, 14 Western Bluebirds, nine Mountain Bluebirds and six Tree Swallows fledged in 2021. No bird deaths were observed this year, although, sadly, one nest with five Western Bluebird eggs did not hatch. This was during the scorching heat wave, so the eggs probably didn't stand a chance. The adults hung around for seven weeks, then finally flew off. Check out our special page to learn more about our wonderful Bluebird Monitoring Program.

Ian Pooley, the founder of founder of Friends of Black Mountain, and his wife, Carolyn MacHardy, have created an endowment fund whose purpose is to protect the environmental health of the Black Mountain/sntsk’il’ntәn Regional Park. Read more about this generous gesture here.

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Friends of Black Mountain is a non-profit group of volunteers, dedicated to promoting the responsible discovery, enjoyment and conservation of the Black Mountain Regional Park, owned by the people of the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) and co-managed by the RDCO and the Westbank First Nation. 

Park Update

After numerous setbacks, we’re delighted to report that work is finally underway on initiatives to enhance the accessibility of the Black Mountain Regional Park. 

 

A contractor hired by the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) has recently begun work on an important new trail to link the Joe Rich and Swainson gates of the park. The so-called Historic Flume Trail will run in a north-south direction inside the western edge of the park. Work on this trail is scheduled to be completed at the end of November.

 

 

 

 

The contractor will return next spring to continue building two other trails — one up to the summit, and a third, the sntsk’il’ntәn Trail, which will run off the Flume Trail and connect it to the Summit Trail.

 

According to the RDCO, the contractor who will build these trails will also erect signage along the trails and in the parking lots. 

Work is also poised to begin on the parking lot at Joe Rich Road, the southern gate into the park. However, the RDCO reports that a similar project to enhance the parking area near the Swainson Road gate on the west side has been postponed until the spring, pending receipt of an archeological permit.

As for us volunteers of Friends of Black Mountain, we had several work parties out in recent weeks, pulling out weeds that were encroaching on the Coyote and Ephemeral Pond trails we built with volunteers in past years. 

 

Unfortunately, other activities we’d hoped to undertake over the summer, including mending some of the fences and mowing the grasses along the edges of the trails, had to be cancelled. With the scorching temperatures that gripped the Okanagan, there was too great a risk that our power tools could set the tinder-dry grasses on fire.

All this means that the Park's official grand opening has been postponed until 2022

Even so, the RDCO continues to develop plans and ideas for the park over the longer term. For example, next year it will invite tenders for additional trails, viewing platforms, and further interpretive signage.

And, of course, we at the FoBM will continue our complementary efforts to safeguard this unique natural jewel, while at the same time making it safe and inviting for visitors like you.

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How to report concerns...

As you walk, hike or bike around the park you might see something that concerns you and/or violates park rules. This can include motorized vehicles anywhere within the park boundaries, aggressive dogs or dogs off leash, horses where they're not supposed to be, cattle, or vandalized fences, signs or other park infrastructure. 

If you see something wrong, please report it as soon as possible to the RDCO Parks department. Their numbers are: 

Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m -- (250) 469-6232

After hours/stat holidays and emergencies only -- (250) 868-5299

You can also message them through a new online reporting system: https://requests.rdco.com

We thank you for helping keep the park healthy and safe for all.

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Volunteers at Work!

FoBM Volunteers worked through the spring and fall to maintain the two trails we built -- one around the Ephemeral Ponds and one, the Coyote Trail, along the western edge of the park. In April, a dozen hardy souls grabbed rakes, hoes and other tools to clean, clear and smooth the trails. In October and November, several more used spades and special weed-extracting tools to clear the trails of encroachment by unwanted plants. 

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Rest your weary bones

The plaques are on! We're delighted to report that the RDCO has attached the plaques that tell the story of our two new benches! Using funds raised from the local community, FoBM last year purchased the benches through the RDCO. These were installed along the Ephemeral and Coyote trails, at locations carefully selected to invite hikers to rest their legs, gaze across the miles, and contemplate the splendour of this unique ecosystem. The benches sat in anonymity for some months, before the plaques were finally affixed over the past summer.

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Beautiful Birds

A signature FoBM activity involves fostering a healthy and flourishing population of bluebirds. For several years we've installed and monitored nesting boxes to encourage bluebirds to make the park their home. But we're not playing favourites: We love all birds! So visit our Bluebirds page to learn more about our special feathered friends, and check out our Mountain Ecology page to admire the many other raptors, songbirds and other winged wonders that love Black Mountain as much as we do.

Pleased to Report

In our first five years of operation, FoBM is pleased to have chalked up some important successes. We worked with student volunteers to build several kilometres of gravel trails. We engaged in numerous conservation projects to count, monitor and protect natural species. We advocated for the protection of the grassland habitats from ranching activities. And, through our organized hikes and other outreach work, we introduced countless people to the marvels of the park. 

Enjoy the Park

Black Mountain Regional Park, centred on the imposing Black Knight Mountain of eastern Kelowna, is a 640-hectare ecological jewel of the Okanagan. The park, of great meaning to the region's indigenous peoples, has been assembled in stages in recent years. It is expected to open in its entirety in 2022. Over the past five years, our FoBM volunteers have worked hard to preserve the park's unique flora and fauna, while at the same time promoting its responsible and respectful enjoyment by the public.

AGM Report

FoBM's Annual General Meeting for 2020-2021 took place virtually via Zoom on March 23rd. Mr. Murray Kopp, Director of Parks Services for the Regional District of Central Okanagan, gave the keynote presentation. You can see his presentation here.