Motorists on the west side of Highway 97 near Vernon will be able to spot a new roadside sign about the local Swan Lake Nature Reserve Park (SLNRP).
The SLNRP provides ecological diversity within the Greater Vernon area, including forested areas, grasslands, lakeshore and wetland settings, all with important educational and interpretation values.
The park is co-owned by the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The 50-hectare (123-acre) property is located at the south end of Swan Lake, just outside of Vernon. In 2010, the RDNO entered into a 99-year-lease with Ducks Unlimited Canada to manage and operate the entire property.
The park is particularly important to bird species, which use it year-round for breeding, nesting, shelter and migratory resting and feeding. The park also supports many populations of mammals, reptiles and invertebrates.
There is a 1.8 km trail with a three-storey wildlife observation tower on the shores of Swan Lake. The majority of the reserve is undeveloped for conservation.
Also, up to 40 species of migratory waterfowl and waterbirds use the lake, including loons, grebes, herons, swans, geese, ducks, coots, gulls and terns.
Surveys reveal that up to 6,000 waterfowl may use the lake and surrounding area each day during the height of migration. Dozens of other bird species also occur seasonally including at least 15 species of diurnal and nocturnal raptors, several of which winter in fields around the lake.
Several other organizations have made considerable contributions to the purchase of the property and its ongoing maintenance, including the North Okanagan Naturalists Club, Bishop Wild Bird Trust, B.C. Ministry of Environment and Nature Trust of B.C.
Local residents and tourists alike are encouraged and welcome to visit the park to enjoy the wildlife viewing and natural spaces. Visitors can avail themselves of the viewing platform, nature trails, and interpretive signage.