Ritchie Lake had been used for mud bogging and off-road vehicle activity in the past. Efforts have been made to protect and restore this area.

Lake returning to natural state

A popular area used for mud bogging a number of years back is beginning to return to its natural state.

A popular area used for mud bogging a number of years back is beginning to return to its natural state.

Ritchie Lake, situated north of Summerland, just past Garnett Lake, was once a healthy wetland area, providing habitat and a source of drinking water for wildlife in the area.

Wetlands such as this  are rare in the South Okanagan and very sensitive to human activities and development.  It had been virtually destroyed over time by off-road vehicles, road and pipeline construction, cattle accessing the water, and several very dry years.

In order to restore the wetlands to its natural state, a partnership was formed between the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program Manager, the Summerland Sportsmens’ Association, the local rancher, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and the land manager, Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

An application was made to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, with Provincial range staff providing support and materials.

The group now had cash, materials and a total of 10 volunteers.

It took about four days to erect a wildlife friendly range fence around the perimeter of the former pond.

A number of boulders were placed in the low spots.

An interpretive sign was posted stating the sensitivity of the ecosystem and the value to wildlife.

It also lists the funders, partners and volunteers involved. The project was completed in September of 2012.

But it takes more than fences and signage to change behaviours. It is through education that a critical mass of people are beginning to understand, that every action on our part brings a reaction in our environment.

Continued monitoring and management of this wetland and the Garnett Valley area is being done by the province, with penalties in place to be handed out to anyone found to be contributing to the destruction of the area.