Naturalists club steps up for environment

Naturalists club steps up for environment

by Staff Writer - Vernon Morning Star
posted Dec 11, 2016

Birds of a feather have been flocking together for 65 years.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club is celebrating its founding Dec. 12, 1951.

“We remain dedicated to our original club goals and today, we are advocates for preservation of the natural environment in the face of encroaching urban development,” said Claude Rioux, director.

The club began under the auspices of Douglas Ross, of the Canada Forest Insect Laboratory, with other founding members including James Grant, Phil Jones, James Brandon Beddome and Jack Fowle.

By the end of 1952, there were 33 people. That has now climbed to more than 120.

“Our club is a diverse group of birders, hikers, botanists, entomologists and citizen scientists who advocate for preservation of natural habitat and open spaces,” said Rioux.

“We also strive to share this knowledge with the younger generation through our Nature Kids program.”

The club has several monitoring programs, including Bluebird Trails, where volunteers build and maintain nest boxes to encourage mountain and western bluebirds to increase their numbers in the range and grassland areas around Vernon.

“We also have volunteers in the hummingbird banding program to record the number of various species of these birds that visit the region each year,” said Rioux.

“NONC also participates in several programs including the Christmas bird count, swan and eagle count and the Great Backyard Bird Count to help monitor the health of the overall bird population.”

Grant funding and contributions from club members have allowed research to be conducted over several years on local rattlesnake habitat.

The research focused on population monitoring to determine total snake numbers in the dens in the study area.

And the Swan Lake Reserve is a joint project of NONC, Ducks Unlimited and the Regional District of North Okanagan to protect waterfowl nesting and an area where raptors can be seen.

Membership is open to anyone living in the North Okanagan area.

For more information, contact Harold Sellers at 250-503-2388 or go to