Regional Rundown: In-depth tour of valley was an eye-opener

It is our diversity that makes us who we are and we should be proud to share it.

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in two different and unique tours in the valley.

The first was hosted by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. The purpose of the tour was to raise awareness about our watershed and how it impacts everyday life.  There were about 30 people who attended the day-long event. We started at Kinsmen Beach, where the restoration project that was completed on the shoreline few years ago was showcased.

We then toured Windermere Water & Sewer Company’s water treatment plant, which provides drinking water to some communities on the east side of the lake.  Our next stop was at Edible Acres, where we viewed their irrigation ditch and learned of the challenges they face with growing their crops.

We then travelled to Canal Flats for a short walk and visit to the Headwaters of the Columbia River. It was amazing to see how this river starts with just a small amount of water and to think about the impacts it has on so many people downstream.

Our final stop was a demonstration of a boat-washing station, which is very important to control the spread of invasive aquatic species. While our local lakes and rivers currently do not have any invasive aquatic species, it certainly is a threat that is very real and impacts to our region would be significant.

The second tour was hosted by the Kootenay Conversation Program. The intent of this tour was to view some on-the-ground projects that had received funding from the RDEK Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund.

Every year, the RDEK collects $20 per parcel in the Columbia Valley for this program, which generates approximately $230,000 per year. It is unique to the Columbia Valley and projects are only in the Columbia Valley.

We learned about bats and the impact they have to the ecosystem.  We visited Groundswell and toured their greenhouse and permaculture landscape. Our final stop was Zehnder Ranch where we witnessed first-hand the benefits of the Ecological Goods and Services program that is currently in progress. My greatest take away from these two tours is that we have a lot to celebrate in the valley. It is our diversity that makes us who we are and we should be proud to share it.

Wendy Booth is the Regional District of East Kootenay Director for Area F and the RDEK board’s vice chair. She can be reached at wndbooth@gmail.com or 250-345-6155.

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