A South Okanagan initiative created by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has resulted in $7.4-million of investment in the environment over five years.

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund has now disbursed 38 grants worth just over $1.5-million since 2017 and has attracted matching funds from other sources worth $5.9-million.

“What is exciting about this fund, aside from the incredible work on the ground, is the power it has to leverage other funds from elsewhere,” said SOCF administrator Bryn White. “I think that will continue to increase every year.”

From 2022

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is now accepting applications for funding from eligible organizations dedicated to conservation projects in 2024.

The fund, which is overseen by a technical advisory committee through the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, exists to provide financial support for local projects that may fall through the cracks of federal, provincial or local governments.

“The South Okanagan Similkameen is biologically, a unique area of Canada,” reads a description from the RDOS.

“The RDOS has the second highest number of species at risk of any other Regional District in BC as well as the highest proportion of sensitive ecosystems.”

The fund has provided 38 grants since 2017 for a total of $1,528,791, plus $5.9 million in matching funds from other sources.

See Full Grant Funding Article At Castanet

2023 Applications now open
The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is accepting applications until Friday, September 29, 2023, at 4:30 pm PT, from eligible organizations to support conservation projects in 2024.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) observes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Saturday, September 30, 2023.

This is a national day to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve. It is to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

In observing this day, it is an opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and recommit to understanding the truth of our shared history, to accept and learn from it and in doing so, help to create a better country, and a more inclusive British Columbia.


The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board approved 8 South Okanagan Conservation Fund projects in January 2022, disbursing just over $161,000 to conservation organizations working towards environmental sustainability in the South Okanagan area. The projects include restoring and enhancing environmentally sensitive areas, creating wetlands, controlling invasive plants, environmental school programs, volunteer planting, and undertaking research and conservation actions for habitats and species at risk in the South Okanagan.

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund was established in 2017 and since then has funded over 24 conservation projects that have benefitted South Okanagan communities, protecting important land, water and wildlife values.


The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) is observing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

This is a national day to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve. It is to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

In observing this day – the deadline for SOCF proposals will be extended to 4:30 pm October 1.

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is now open for applications. Eligible organizations looking to undertake environmental conservation projects can apply for funding until October 1st 2021. See the Apply for Funding page on this website. If you have a project idea you would like to discuss, contact the Fund Administrator, Bryn White at brynwhite@telus.net

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund was established to support local environmental projects that would make a difference to the sustainability of the land, water and wildlife of the region. The RDOS has granted $482,365 to eight projects making that difference in 2021. From salmon to bats, lakeshores to shrubsteppe –  local organizations are working hard to protect and sustain our unique biological treasures of the South Okanagan.

Read more about the projects and people who are leading conservation and the Fund that is making it happen.

(Photo Credit Michael Bezener, En’owkin Centre)

Precious wetlands, old-growth forest and grasslands now protected as part of internationally significant conservation area in the South Okanagan

Osoyoos, BC (December 15, 2020) – An internationally significant conservation area just outside Osoyoos has just gotten bigger. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is announcing the addition of 126 hectares (311 acres) to the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area.

Located fewer than 30 minutes west of Osoyoos along the Canada / U.S. border, Sage and Sparrow now encompasses over 1,500 hectares (3,750 acres) of rare grasslands and interior Douglas-fir forest at the confluence of the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. This area is within the traditional territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples.

The Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area is nestled within the provincial South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. The new addition extends the conservation area to the north, filling in a gap in a north-south conservation corridor in one of the country’s rarest and most threatened ecosystems.

This unique landscape represents the northernmost tip of the arid, desert-like ecosystem that extends through central Washington State. Sage and Sparrow provides essential habitat for 62 confirmed at risk plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in Canada. Several species are listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, including western tiger salamander, southern mountain population (endangered), western rattlesnake (threatened), Great Basin gophersnake (threatened), Great Basin spadefoot (threatened) and Lewis’s woodpecker (threatened).

The new conservation lands span a diversity of habitats. In addition to sagebrush steppe and bunchgrass-dominated grasslands, the land includes some of the oldest stands of interior Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine forest in the broader area. Two large wetlands provide precious moisture in this arid landscape.n

Woodlands of trembling aspen offer nesting habitat for birds as well as cooling shade during temperature extremes for all wildlife. Snakes, gophers and mice make use of the pockets of rugged terrain scattered throughout the property. And the variety of terrain, micro-climates and structural diversity add immensely to the property’s conservation value.

The Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area is open to the public for walk-in access only. Click here for a bird’s-eye view of the new acquisition.

This project has been made possible by the contributions of many funders, including the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sitka Foundation, Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society, Oliver Osoyoos Naturalists Club, South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and many generous donors.

NCC received just over $266,000 from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund to help secure the property.

“The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is proud to be working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help protect the region’s natural heritage. Expanding Sage and Sparrow will provide greater security to dozens of at-risk species, in one of the province’s most unique landscapes.” Karla Kozakevich, chair, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.



Nature Conservancy of Canada

Nature Conservancy of Canada works with partners to conserve important natural areas and biological diversity across all regions of Canada through direct purchase, land donations, retiring resource extraction permits and licenses, and negotiated conservation agreements. Since 1974, NCC has helped to protect 820,000 hectares (2 million acres) in the province of BC and 14 million hectares (35 million acres) across Canada. 

This project is a fee simple acquisition of two parcels of land totaling about 308 acres northwest of Osoyoos BC, immediately north and contiguous with NCC’s Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area and the south Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. With this acquisition, the total amount of NCC’s connected private conservation land will be 1516 hectares, an increase of 8%.

This acquisition is a key addition to the Sage and Sparrow Conservation Area that will contribute to a larger protected north-south corridor within the landscape that includes the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area (SOGPA). A multitude of protected species including migratory birds, waterfowl, songbirds, amphibians, reptiles, ungulates, and wide-ranging animals, will benefit from this acquisition.

The key habitat values on the property are significant, and are a diverse mosaic of ecosystems which provide for a multitude of habitats and species. On the adjacent Sage and Sparrow holdings, there are at least 62 federally and/or provincially listed species at risk. The property contains seven of the eight biodiversity conservation targets identified in NCC’s South Okanagan Similkameen Natural Area Conservation Plan and are an excellent representation of the grasslands and dry and moist forest ecosystems in the South Okanagan region. Additionally, two large wetlands on the property hold water year-round and provide vital habitat for both wetland and upland species in this otherwise arid landscape.

The project was approved by the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board and $266,597 was allocated from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in July of 2020. The South Okanagan Conservation Fund dollars match funding from other sources as well as in-kind contributions. This project is now complete, with the acquisition finalized in December of 2020. See the video here

The Regional District of Okanagan- Similkameen (RDOS) is seeking qualified individuals to volunteer as members for the newly established South Okanagan Conservation Fund Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

The South Okanagan Conservation Fund is in support of undertaking and administering activities, projects and works that include, but are not limited to, water, environment, wildlife, land and habitat conservation efforts to protect natural areas within participating areas of the South Okanagan which includes Electoral Areas A, C, D, E and F of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, along with the District of Summerland, Town of Oliver and City of Penticton.

Committee members will be appointed by the RDOS Board of Directors, based on qualifications, expertise and experience.  The TAC’s role is to provide sound, expert, technical review of annual project proposals and provide recommendation to the RDOS.  The TAC is not a decision making body.

Candidates for membership must possess expertise in the following areas:

  • Management, restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, including sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems;
  • Native fish and wildlife conservation including species at risk;
  • Land and natural resource management, environmental studies, environmental science, hydrology, hydrobiology, ecology, or conservation biology.

Prospective committee members will have the following qualifications:

  • Practical knowledge of and experience in the specific technical areas;
  • Understanding of conservation practices and approaches including stewardship, outreach, traditional ecological knowledge, acquisitions and securement;
  • Practical knowledge of the non-profit and society sector;
  • Strong ethical standards and personal integrity;
  • Ability and willingness to address issues in a non-partisan manner, while considering the opinion of others and working as a team member;
  • Comforts with open dialogue and agreement through consensus;
  • Willingness to sign, and adhere to the Conflict of Interest Guidelines and Confidentiality agreement;
  • Willingness and ability to attend and participate actively in Committee meetings and/or field tours.


Technical Advisory Committee members may serve a maximum of three years, with some members serving one or two year terms initially to ensure membership continuity.

If you are interested in serving on this committee, please submit your resume by September 30th 2020 at 4:30pm to:

  • Christy Malden, Manager of Legislative Services
    101 Martin Street
    Penticton, BC V2A 5J9Email: info@rdos.bc.ca
    Direct line: 250.492.0237

More information on the South Okanagan Conservation Fund Terms of Reference, including the TAC Terms of Reference and the Conflict of Interest Guidelines, can be found here.  Visit www.soconservationfund.ca for more information.

SOSCP Program Manager Bryn White presented the final South Okanagan Conservation Fund 2018 project results at the Regional District Board this past April 18th. These were the first projects ever funded under the new conservation fund program established in 2016. “All projects have been completed and final reporting requirements met, with one coming forward shortly to request an extension.” The seven projects were funded to the tune of $400,000 from the newly established South Okanagan Conservation Fund. “The incredible thing”, said White, “is that we knew that these funds would leverage outside sources of support but we didn’t realize it would be so significant with $2.5 Million raised from other sources, and $151,000 of in-kind contributions.” SOSCP assists the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen with administration of the South Okanagan Conservation Fund. “The first year has been an incredible success”, says White, “what an amazing model for achieving local sustainability priorities.” SOSCP has developed a guide to help other local governments and community organizations explore the development of local conservation funds in their own communities. The guide can be found here.