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  • Friends of Black Mountain Board

About Black Mountain Regional Park

Black Mountain - sntsk'il'ntən Regional Park, hugging the eastern edge of Kelowna north of Highway 33, is an historical and ecological jewel. After an initial land assembly of 510 hectares (1,260 acres) in 2014, the park was expanded three years later to 640 hectares (1,580 acres), making it the largest of the 30 parks in the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO).

One of the key reasons for the creation of the park was to preserve and protect its unique grassland ecosystem, home to nine threatened or endangered plant and animal species. Centred on the iconic Black Knight Mountain (usually shortened to just Black Mountain), the park is also of great cultural significance to the Okanagan indigenous people.

Given its precious and fragile nature, the park is being developed according to a 2016 management plan, with responsibilities shared between the RDCO and the Westbank First Nations (WFN). The plan sets out conservation, stewardship, interpretation, security and recreation as some of its priorities. The Friends of Black Mountain (FoBM) was founded in 2015 to support those priorities.

 

These key stakeholders and community volunteers have worked together on several important initiatives to develop the park in a way that will encourage its sustainable and responsible enjoyment by the public. The focus is on protecting the fragile grassland from any further damage by people, vehicles, livestock, horses or dogs. Notably:

 

  • Fencing around the park was built and repaired, and gates and cattle guards were installed to control access 

  • WFN identified an area of the park near the ephemeral ponds that was of indigenous cultural significance; the area was protected by fencing. 

  • A trail system was built in partnership with FoBM to encourage sustainable and responsible recreation and appreciation for this unique ecosystem.

  • FoBM established a bluebird revival and monitoring program.

  • Both RDCO and FOBM offered interpretive and supervised walks in the park, highlighting its value and the importance of conservation.

  • Horseback riding has been restricted to specific trails.

  • Signage has been erected to bar motorized vehicles and to promote responsible behaviour by dog owners and other users.

 

In 2021, RDCO is dipping into a $975,000 fund from federal, provincial and regional sources to prepare two formal entrances to the park, one at Swainson Road and the other at Joe Rich. (A third informal access point at Pyman Road has been closed as the surrounding land was sold to an orchard company.) When the entrances, featuring paved parking areas and visitor amenities, are completed, the park, currently only partly open is expected to be given a complete and formal opening.

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