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Johanna Saaltink with daughter Elmie Saaltink and granddaughter Lia McKinnon

Johanna Saaltink with daughter Elmie Saaltink and granddaughter Lia McKinnon

 

Three Generations of Adventurers

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

Johanna: I love the open spaces and the beautiful views.

Elmie: I love the colours. They’re very calming colours – the yellows, creams, blues. And I love the water, the contrast between the dry land and the water.

Lia: I love all the different habitat types. The fact that you can go from the lake to alpine meadows, wetlands and dry forest all within a short drive. There are so many amazing trails up in the mountains and so many opportunities to get outside and experience it all.

What do you worry about when you think about the Okanagan and the environment in the future? Why is a healthy environment important to you?

Johanna: For me the increase in population is a worry.

Elmie: There’s a lot of pressure to develop all the land that’s available. And that development happens in some very fragile habitats. I’m afraid that once it’s gone, it’s very, very difficult to get it back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Lia: Grasslands or shrub steppes which are really endangered ecosystems tend to be seen as wastelands and there are a lot of species at risk that are dependent on those habitats. These are old growth systems of the desert so these plants are hundreds of years old and they require a certain lack of disturbance.

What do you think about a household levy of $10/average/year? What could the benefits of a South Okanagan Conservation Fund be?

Lia: I think it’s a great idea. Having those funds available is so helpful for local groups to leverage outside funds. If you collect $10 per household you can probably get $20 per household from federal and provincial sources and other organizations. Those matching contributions are significant, enough to take on bigger projects.

Elmie: I think about my children and grandchildren and I really believe the land doesn’t belong to us. We’re borrowing it from future generations. We should be taking care of it.

Ernie Sheridan

Real Estate Agent

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

I love its natural beauty. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Canada, if not the world. The diversity is so great. Here we are in the desert, the only desert in Canada and yet we have high alpine skiing close by. The mountains to the east are beautiful, the valleys that surround us are beautiful. I love it all. The Okanagan sells itself because of its natural beauty.

What do you worry about when you think about the Okanagan and the environment in the future? Why is a healthy environment important to you?

I’m concerned about protecting the environment for all who live here. What’s good for the environment is good for its inhabitants, all of its inhabitants, not just the people.

What do you think about a household levy of $10/average/year? What could the benefits of a South Okanagan Conservation Fund be?

I’m in favour of the conservation fund. It’s a small amount of money you’re asking people to contribute to have a clean living environment – cleaner air, less invasive species, green spaces for people to enjoy. People need to look at the natural world around them and cherish what we have here in own back yard.

Hillary Ward and Eric Newton, with baby Emily

Okanagan Biologists and new parents

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

Hillary: What I love about the Okanagan is the abundance of nature and natural areas that are available for us to experience.

What do you worry about when you think about the Okanagan and the environment in the future? Why is a healthy environment important to you?

Hillary: I think in the Okanagan we’re facing real problems with increasing development in the area and so protecting natural spaces is a key priority to be focused on for the Okanagan.

What do you think about a household levy of $10/average/year? What could the benefits of a South Okanagan Conservation Fund be?

Hillary: We absolutely support the idea of a levy to preserve natural spaces in the Okanagan. Growing up in Victoria I’ve seen what the conservation fund there has done for that area. It’s an excellent example of what can be done here in the Okanagan. It’s really such a small dollar amount that you’re asking people for and you’re contributing to something that is going to last a lifetime.

Natalie Minunzie

Long-time Okanagan resident

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

It’s the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. It’s got colour, the hills, the open spaces, the blue sky and the clear air. I love everything about this place.

What do you worry about when you think about the Okanagan and the environment in the future? Why is a healthy environment important to you?

I have lived here for 16 years and I’ve seen incredible changes. There are more and more people coming here and we really have to start acting now. We have the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. It’s so important we work together to preserve it. It’s important to develop a sense of stewardship especially among young people. People have to understand why they are preserving habitat so they can take steps in the future to make sure it survives.

What do you think about a household levy of $10/average/year? What could the benefits of a South Okanagan Conservation Fund be?

I think the $10 levy is extremely modest, I think it’s well within most people’s reach. It will also help leverage more money, and so it has even greater potential of doing a great deal of good.

Kenn and Sandra Oldfield

Owners, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

Sandra: For me having moved up from California I like the variedness of it. It’s not a monoculture here. It’s got good protection of farmland as well as lots of native areas. Not many people know that right behind us is the whole Kobau range, with native grasses and fauna that exist here. For me I like going up there, where the wildflowers and birds are bountiful.

Kenn: Right up behind our property is the Thompson plateau. I love that right from the edge of our farmland it goes straight into a natural rangeland native landscape.

What do you worry about when you think about the Okanagan and the environment in the future? Why is a healthy environment important to you?

Sandra: I have long term concerns about water, and development pressure. I don’t like to see our native rangeland turned over to development. We’re always going to see those pressures because we’re always going to be growing but it’s a matter of how you balance people and wildlife. The only way to do it is if you’re in a group, collaborating, talking about it together. I think the conservation fund will provide that opportunity.

What do you hope your personal legacy for the Okanagan will be? What are you most proud of?

Sandra: Being stewards of our own land is as much as we could ever hope for. I think we’ll turn this land over in better condition than when we took it on. But from a wider Okanagan perspective I think the only thing that I can do is trying to show businesses that you can be financially successful and you can be sustainable. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Our sustainability programs here on the farm have saved us money. I think that’s the opposite of what most business owners think. They think to become sustainable takes a lot of capital input and instead it actually just means making your operations more efficient.

Kenn: I think the best that we can do, is be a good example, to show people what can be done. I’m most proud of our reputation for the things we’ve done here on the vineyard. Some of the loyalty from our customers comes from how we feel about the environment and what we do here to make a difference. It’s the little steps that can help a great deal.

What do you think about a household levy of $10/average/year? What could the benefits of a South Okanagan Conservation Fund be?

Sandra: People have the opportunity now, for literally a buck a month, to have local control over resources, to have a local discussion and prioritize things. Do I want to see more taxes? Probably not, but every household here takes advantage of everything that this levy would fund. Everybody loves nature, but they can’t just expect it can go on without funding. Show me someone here that use or doesn’t look at or respect the nature that’s around us. There’s a reason why we choose to live here and it’s because of nature, so even if you’re not physically partaking you’re here because of it and we need money to sustain it.

Kenn: The nicest thing for me about the conservation fund is local money means local control. If you put it in to the pot yourself then you’ve got a say over how that pot gets used. If we can leverage it to get federal funds then so much the better.