Okanagan Nation Alliance in partnership with the Penticton Indian Band

Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan and among other functions, works to provide technical fisheries assistance for the Nation and its eight member communities, including the Penticton Indian Band, and acting as a liaison between federal and provincial fisheries agencies and other non-government organizations.

SnPink’tn (The Penticton Indian Band) represents one of the communities of the Okanagan Nation. SnPink’tn (The Penticton Indian Band) is located on beautiful bench land comprised of three reserves. “We are Syilx who receive our strength from timixw and encompass what is good for our livelihood. We are committed to our language and the teachings of our captiklxw and respect that everyone has value and purpose to come together as one.” (taken from the PIB website).

Trout Creek is the primary water source for the District of Summerland and is the largest community watershed in the Okanagan. The lower reach of Trout Creek was channelized and diked in 1949 and then further in 1973 for flood control. Channelization has rendered the creek less than ideal for fish (especially rainbow trout and sockeye salmon) and has disconnected the creek from the floodplain and degraded riparian habitat.

This year 1 project follows a seed funding proposal from last year, that began the planning and dialogue necessary to explore the optimal project design for naturalization that will improve fish and wildlife habitat for a lower reach of the creek, while improving creek stability and water quality and maintaining flood capacity. This year, the project will increase awareness for the importance of conservation in the area, build on the preliminary habitat assessments done in 2017-2018 through Colville Confederated Tribes with the Okanogan Sub-basin Habitat Improvement Program to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, targeting kokanee salmon and rainbow trout (resident and adfluvial), by naturalizing the creek with a series of meanders and riffles resulting in more natural fish passage and aesthetically pleasing area for the community. The project will undertake planning, steering committee, and local Traditional Ecological Knowledge meetings (Penticton Indian Band) and create engineered designs ready for construction. Final designs will be created which balance flood capacity needs and creating diverse stream and riparian habitat. Success will be measured based on achieving a collaborative plan that can be designed by and engineer and ready for construction so that tasks such as outreach and permitting can be completed. Planning for construction to occur in years 2 and 3.

The project was approved by the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board and $59,231 was allocated from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in 2020. The South Okanagan Conservation Fund dollars match funding from other sources including from other private grants and foundations. The project is expected to complete by January 31, 2021.