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.
Black Mountain Regional Park
to become even more accessible!
Black Mountain Regional Park is getting an exciting facelift for 2022, including new parking lots, a variety of trails, and the removal of a cattle guard that has long impeded access to the park from Swainson Road.
As Friends of Black Mountain bade farewell to 2021 at a well-attended annual general meeting March 15, James Chester, the liaison officer from the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), confirmed that the cattle guard would be removed this year. With the development of a new parking lot entrance at Swainson Road, there will no longer be a need for the guard. Removing it will greatly enhance access for pedestrians, horseback riders and bicyclists.
“There are plans to remove that (cattle guard) this year,” he said, adding: “We don’t want cattle in the park, full stop.”
James Chester outlined other important initiatives, planned or already underway, that will add to the park’s accessibility and appeal:
A new parking lot with a public toilet is nearing completion close to the park’s southern entrance off Joe Rich Road.
A lightly-surfaced access trail nearly 1 kilometre in length will connect that parking lot to the park entrance.
With the recent completion of an archeological study, work is to begin soon on a new parking lot at Swainson Road.
RDCO has plans to widen, smooth out and generally enhance the 1.2-kilometre service road connecting Swainson Road to various trails, including Coyote, Ephemeral and Flume. With the removal of the cattle guard, this entrance will become the most accessible route for individuals of all abilities to enter the park.
Work is well underway on the Flume Trail which, at nearly 2.5 kilometres, will run along the western edge of the park and join the Joe Rich and Swainson Road entrances. The Flume will not be surfaced and will be approximately half a metre wide.
Another new trail, called Sntsk’il’ntən, is also in the works. At just over 3.7 kilometres, it will traverse a narrow valley, as well as the historic Ski Bowl. The trail, which will enable hikers to walk in loops from either of the parking lots, has been staked out, with construction slated to begin when the ground is suitably dry.
At the same time, RDCO will start work on one other trail, a grinding 2.3-kilometre zigzag to the top of Black Mountain. The Summit trail will feature some aluminum steps to help hikers up and down the slope.
The existing Hoodoo Trail will be better cleared and marked.
Kiosks, signposts and blazes will be installed throughout the park to help people find their way through the trail system.
FoBM Activities Continue
During the AGM, which members could choose to attend in person or by Zoom, FoBM President Jean-Claude Gavrel reported that the organization will focus again this year on maintaining the two FoBM-built trails — Coyote and Ephemeral Pond — and repairing fences that are frequent targets of vandals.
FoBM will also work with RDCO to prepare interpretive signage about the ecology and history of the park, and will continue nurturing and monitoring the bluebird population.
The meeting’s keynote speaker was the celebrated local naturalist and photographer Pam Laing, who shared breathtaking images of the birds that pass through the park, or make it their home.
Two new directors also joined the board, which was elected by acclamation.
Lazuli bunting by Pam Laing
The pandemic didn't keep us down!
The 2022 bluebird-monitoring season is well underway, under the watchful eye of Carol Millar and her dedicated team of Black Mountain bluebird monitors.
Last year, 14 Western Bluebirds, nine Mountain Bluebirds and six Tree Swallows fledged. No bird deaths were observed, although, sadly, one nest with five Western Bluebird eggs did not hatch. This was during the scorching mid-summer heat wave, so the eggs probably didn't stand a chance. The adults hung around for seven weeks, then finally flew off.
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.
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.
Rest your weary bones
As you hike along the trails built by FoBM, be sure to have a seat on one of our welcoming benches. These benches, purchased from the RDCO using funds that FoBM raised from the community, are 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.
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 seven 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. We hope it will open in its entirety in 2022. Over the past seven 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.