The southern interior of British Columbia has one of the highest concentrations of at-risk species in Canada. One-quarter of the red-listed (endangered) vertebrates are found here, as well as at least 100 at-risk plant species and nearly 300 rare insects and spiders. Saving the region’s threatened habitats is vital to conserving the province's rich biological diversity.
The Great Basin Spadefoot is a unique amphibian adapted to life in dry conditions. In Canada, it is found only in south-central British Columbia and is classified as a blue-listed (vulnerable) species. To survive, spadefoots need three different types of environments – ponds for breeding, dry grasslands/open woodlands for foraging, and loose soil for hibernating. They also need protected areas where it’s possible to travel safely between these habitats. Female spadefoots lay their eggs in clusters that are covered by a jelly like substance. The eggs are usually attached to a small branch or twig in shallow water and hatch within one week after they are laid.
At the Osoyoos Desert Centre, two ponds have been created to provide breeding sites for the spadefoot. The largest pond, located near the entrance, is an ephemeral pond – it is filled with water during the breeding season then allowed to dry up as it would in nature. In the habitat surrounding the pond, invasive plants have been removed and hundreds of native species planted to provide food and shelter for adult spadefoots. A viewing deck has been constructed and interpretive signage installed to give visitors an opportunity to observe and learn about the amphibian and its habitat.
Behr’s Hairstreak Habitat
The Behr’s Hairstreak is a small butterfly that depends on antelope-brush for its survival. Antelope-brush is the only host plant on which the adult butterflies lay their eggs. In Canada, Behr's Hairstreak is found only in the South Okanagan and is listed as endangered.
The Osoyoos Desert Centre has partnered with the Public Conservation Assistance Fund to restore habitat for the Behr’s Hairstreak butterfly. Almost 2,000 native plants have been planted near the boardwalk entrance at the Centre. The antelope-brush, nectar plants and native grasses used for the project provide host and nectar plants for the Behr’s Hairstreak and food and shelter for other wildlife living in the ecosystem.
In 1998 the Osoyoos Desert Society received a licence of occupation for the Crown land parcel on which the Osoyoos Desert Centre is located. In 2011 the province extended the Society’s tenure by granting a 30-year lease for the site. The long-term lease makes it possible for the Osoyoos Desert Centre to continue its stewardship of the antelope-brush habitat and its restoration and education efforts.