Friends of Black Mountain is a non-profit group of volunteers, dedicated to promoting the responsible discovery, enjoyment and conservation of the Black Mountain - sntsk'il'ntən 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.
FoBM welcomes new directors
Friends of Black Mountain held its Annual General Meeting on March 15 to close out the 2022 year. Outgoing president Jean-Claude Gavrel reported on a successful year of hard work by FoBM volunteers, who continued to tend a vital Bluebird Trail and to clear the Coyote and Ephemeral Ponds trails of encroaching weeds and grasses.
At the AGM, Members also bade farewell to four other directors, Glen Wood, Carol Millar, Don Wilson, and Nicole Baer, most of whom had been with the organization since its inception.
At the same time, they enthusiastically welcomed two new directors, Jacqueline Gullion and Mary Ann Slowka, who will be joining returning directors Cara Kirkey and Dennis Young. Jacqueline is taking over the role of president and the other executive positions are listed here.
While you're on that page, do consider joining us and helping to conserve this beautiful park.
Trail System Bigger and Better than Ever!
The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) opened a new parking lot at the park's south gate, along Joe Rich Road, in mid-September. The new entrance also features a large, accessible washroom and signage. It leads via a freshly gravelled 1-kilometre former access road to the newly completed Flume Trail, another 1.5 kilometres of relatively easy walking.
The Flume Trail heads straight north along the park's western edge, eventually connecting to such well-loved trails as the Coyote, Ephemeral Pond, Hoodoo, Ridge and Grassland trails.
Similarly, at the Swainson Road entrance to the park, a new parking lot now features two washrooms and a water fountain for humans and dogs.
The RDCO, which co-manages the park, is continuing to work toward the full opening of this 640-acre grassland jewel. A significant area of the park remains closed while two more signature trails are being completed.
One, called the sntsk'il'ntən trail, will eventually run for 6.5 kilometres, connecting the Joe Rich and Swainson entrances, east of the Flume trail. The other will start at the sntsk'il'ntən trail, and zigzag for 2.3 kilometres through steep and rugged terrain to the summit of the mountain. In early October, local residents spotted a chopper airlifting numerous sections of staircases up the mountain. The mission was to deposit the metal staircases at particularly gruelling portions of the future Summit trail.
RDCO hopes all of this work will be completed and the park officially opened in 2023.
Left to Right: Friends of Black Mountain trail volunteer Jean-Claude clears Coyote Trail in autumn 2022; volunteers Elizabeth and Peter reach the northern end of the trail, nearest to Tower Ranch; new parking lot at Joe Rich Road; new amenities at Swainson Road park entrance.
Click here to see a new map of the park, including trails, entrances and areas that remain closed to visitors!
Have you ever wondered how earlier residents of Kelowna kept themselves fit and entertained in winter? By skiing, of course!
Yes, long before Big White and Silver Star, there was a ski hill on the slopes of Black Mountain. As early as the 1920s, intrepid Kelownians would scramble up the hill, for the sheer joy of skiing back down again. Eventually they went high-tech with the addition of not one, but two rope tows!
We've put together a special page that recounts the fascinating history of the Black Mountain Ski Bowl, along with modern efforts to bring those stories back to life.
Current FoBM president Jean-Claude Gavrel (R) unveils images of new park bench honouring Ian Pooley (L) and Carolyn MacHardy.
FoBM gifts bench
to founding president
In an initiative spearheaded by 2022-2023 president Jean-Claude Gavrel, FoBM donated a park bench in honour of founding president Ian Pooley and his wife, Carolyn MacHardy.
With a profound knowledge of, and appreciation for, the park's history and ecology, the two have been tireless advocates for initiatives that protect the park's unique and fragile features, including its grasslands and ephemeral ponds. Under Ian's leadership, FoBM also launched a successful trail-building project, as a way to promote sustainable and accessible public enjoyment of the park.
"This bench was a way for us to show how grateful we are for Ian and Carolyn's contributions to Black Mountain - sntsk’il’ntәn Regional Park," Jean-Claude said.
The bench, purchased from RDCO, was installed at the end of November at a scenic high point along FoBM's Coyote Trail. While the snow is making access difficult, the couple said they look forward to visiting their honorary bench in spring.
A disappointing end to the 2022 season
The 2022 bluebird season has been disappointing and concerning, according to Carol Millar, tireless keeper of our Bluebird Trail. Only five Western Bluebirds and one Tree Swallow fledged this year, compared to 14 Western Bluebirds, nine Mountain Bluebirds and six Tree Swallows last year.
Read Carol's report from an important North American Bluebird Society conference, held in October, 2022.
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.
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 - sntsk'il'ntən 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.