What We Do
Efforts to save the antelope-brush ecosystem include ecological
restoration, a process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed. Because ecological restoration is a relatively new field of study, there remains a great deal to learn. In many cases, research findings and the lessons learned from a project are as important as the actual restoration.
Seed Mix Study
Osoyoos Desert Centre has been working on a number of research projects focusing on seed mixes using native species. These seed mixes have many applications, including use in traditional restoration projects, alongside roadways, re-seeding intense burn sites, between vineyard rows, or even for use in backyards for people who want to create a natural looking landscape.
We've been carrying out studies to determine the best native species to use for seeding disturbed areas. Seeds are collected locally and broadcast-seeded in a degraded area near the Centre’s interpretive building. Species selected for the native seed mix include sand dropseed, pasture sage, yarrow, needle-and-thread grass, red three-awn, junegrass, Sandberg’s bluegrass, wooly plantain, brown-eyed susan and golden aster.
Cover Crop Study
The climate and soil conditions found in the South Okanagan have made it a popular site for agriculture. Many of today’s growers are active in conservation efforts and are adopting sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices for their operations.
Osoyoos Desert Centre has partnered with six South Okanagan vineyards on a cover crop study using native seed mixes. The study is designed to find out which native species are best for planting between vineyard rows. Determining an effective seed mix will offer vineyards a low-irrigation solution to controlling dust and erosion while providing native habitat for local wildlife.
The southern interior of British Columbia is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds, 7 species of snakes and 14 kinds of bats. Some species, like the ghostly pale pallid bat, are not found anywhere else in Canada. Others, including more than 20 kinds of insects and spiders, are not found anywhere else in the world. Many of these plants and animals are at risk – nearly 25 percent of all the endangered and threatened vertebrate species in the province live here in the South Okanagan.
Osoyoos Desert Centre provides protected habitat for many of these plant and animal species. Records are kept of species sighted, along with data on breeding and other behaviours. In addition, the Centre serves as a site for researchers conducting a variety of scientific studies.
Much of the knowledge of what animals are present at the Centre comes from scat, fur, burrows and other evidence of their presence. To better learn which animals the site supports and to increase understanding of their behaviour the Centre has installed wildlife cameras to collect data with minimal disturbance to the animals of interest. These cameras capture photo sequences of animals and their day-to-day activities, and provide information on the time of day, weather and temperature, and corresponding behaviour.