SWAN LAKE NATURE RESERVE
Swan Lake Trails
The 1.8 km loop trail [purple on map] on the western field takes walkers around the open land at Swan Lake. It includes three interpretive signs explaining species and habitat. Access is from the parking lot.
A 1.7 km trail [blue on map] from the parking lot follows an old driveway beside the highway and railway track, to BX Creek. A trail beside the creek then leads to the bird blind on Swan Lake. Visitors are welcome to visit and use the blind to observe the many birds that may be found on the lake and in its marshland. CAUTION: High water levels - particularly in the Spring - often result in portions of the trail being wet or even under water.
SEE MAP BELOW: To reach the trail parking lot turn off Old Kamloops Road into Stawn’s Honey. If the gate to the south of Stawn’s building is open, follow the gravel roadway into the fields beyond. Follow the road about 1/2 km to the parking lot.
PLEASE NOTE that DOGS should NOT be brought to this or any other nature reserve. Dogs, even on a leash, will cause birds to abandon nests and generally may discourage birds and animals from making Swan Lake their home at any time of the year.
[A larger map is at the end of this page; scroll down.]
History and Important Events of the Swan Lake Nature Reserve
More cottonwoods and conifers were planted. High water levels hindered access to the bird blind until well into the summer.
One hundred willows and cottonwoods, donated by Mike Carlson, were planted. In the Fall a loop trail was built by RDNO on the western grass field and three interpretive signs were installed.
Jack Smith took on the task of fixing up, re-locating some, and generally caring for the bird nesting boxes.
The Regional District built a gravel road to the Reserve off Old Kamloops Road. Included was a large parking lot and fencing. This was the first phase of providing public access. Caring for the planted trees continued; mowing the tall grass and watering the young trees. Debris was also cleared out of BX Creek.
Shrubs and trees were planted around the new pond, to provide habitat for a variety of bird and animal species. Over 200 willow and cottonwood, donated by Mike Carlson, were planted beside the creek.
A pond was built close to BX Creek and the willow grove, as part of the City of Vernon Upper BX Creek Watershed Improvement Plan. Ducks Unlimited provided advice and support. The pond measures 250 ft by 100 ft and up to 9 ft deep.
A bird blind was built at the mouth of BX Creek. The piling supports were installed by Ducks Unlimited, while the blind was constructed by NONC volunteers.
NONC, with assistance from the BC Forest Service in Vernon, had planted over 1000 trees and shrubs on the ex-Anderson property and continued environmental upgrade of the property in line with the GVSC Nature Park concept plan.
The wildlife survey was completed and the data compiled.
In September NONC completed a footbridge over BX creek that will link to a future trail system.
Detailed surveys commenced on the bird and animal populations, and tree/plant inventory is being updated. Further plans for the year included weed control work parties, tree and shrub planting along Swan Lake Creek, and debris and fence removal.
Ducks Unlimited and Greater Vernon Services, with substantial donations from the North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and Bishop Wild Bird Trust, took title on 125 acres of the Anderson’s property at the south end of Swan Lake to create a nature reserve around BX and Swan Lake Creeks, and provide public recreation. The North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club became responsible for the environmental stewardship of the property. Livestock are permanently removed from the property. Work started on BX creek clean up, and weed control.
NORD Areas B & C OCP indicated that “...a Development Permit Area could be identified around a natural feature such as exists around Kal Lake and Swan Lake.” The report also notes that BC Environment has been considering the feasibility of establishing Swan Lake as a “Wildlife Management Area.” The report further notes that “The LRMP recommended that Swan Lake be identified as a Wildlife Management Area, and the new planning process be undertaken where the old process left off.”
The Okanagan-Shuswap LRMP approved plan called for the designation of Swan Lake as a Wildlife Management Area.
Richard Canning did a study of the Grebe population on Swan Lake for the MoE. He concluded that all boat activity, not just motorboats, disturbs the nesting birds.
Malcolm Martin of NONC produced a detailed report on the vegetation on the Kaminsky property – with relevance to the general flora of Swan Lake.
In 1994 NORD held a meeting with a wide range on interested parties to discuss a Swan Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.
After some meetings with various stakeholders, in December 1994 the BC Environment Wildlife Programs produced a draft “Swan Lake Wildlife Management Area” proposal. This initiative subsequently died due to funding cut backs and upland owner opposition.
The Greater Vernon Natural Areas/Features Inventory identified Swan Lake as “..of extreme importance to migratory waterfowl, and migratory and wintering birds of prey.” “ Swan Lake is among the most important natural features in the North Okanagan.”
NORD Electoral areas B and C Official Community Plan (OCP) recognized that Swan Lake “…is one of the most important waterfowl areas in southern BC, and is located on one of the main migration corridors.” The report recommended that Swan Lake and the surrounding land should be designated as a Development Permit Area for the protection of the natural environment.
Under the Official Community Plan, Bylaw #1049 designated Swan Lake and the lands around the lake as a Development Permit Area for the protection of the natural environment.
Further approaches were made to the Andersons for the purchase of 30 acres – assumed to be Lot 6. NONC commissioned an appraisal of the Anderson properties at the south end of the lake, and a survey was conducted on lots 5, 6, 27, 28 and 29.
Also in 1990 attention shifted to the “Kaminsky property” on the east side of the lake and this property was purchased by the Nature Trust and put under the stewardship of NONC.
“Birds of the Okanagan Valley” by Robert, Richard and Sydney Cannings details the birds that can be found on Swan Lake and notes the disturbing effect of motorboats.
1984 – 1988
NONC proposed a James Grant Nature Reserve at the south end of Swan Lake culminating in a firm offer, with the Nature Trust, to purchase Lots 5, 6, 27, 28 and 29 from the Anderson’s, which was not accepted.
In November the Nature Trust approached the Anderson’s re the sale of Lots 6, 27, 28, 29 at the south end of the lake. NONC assisted in the effort.
Orville Dyer, then an Assistant Wildlife Technician for the Ministry of the Environment, produced a “Swan Lake Acquisition Proposal” for lots 6, 27, 28 and 29. In this report he noted that Swan Lake “…is one of the few relatively unspoiled marshland areas remaining in the Okanagan Valley.” His report concluded that “This extremely important area (the Anderson lots noted above) should be secured in the near future and maintained in a natural state for coming generations.”
NONC and DU were collaborating on plans for a 47-acre “Pheasant habitat” at the north end of the lake. Also in 1981 DU presented a brief to NORD on the waterfowl values of Swan Lake.
The Ministry of the Environment established a waterfowl management reserve around the perimeter of Swan Lake between the HW mark and the water’s edge. A no shooting and no hunting regulation was already in effect. Lot 4645 at the north end was noted to be administered by the MoE for waterfowl and upland game bird habitat improvement.
As far back as 1922 J.A. Munro, Chief Migratory Bird Officer, wrote in the Canadian Field Naturalist that “..Swan Lake has been proposed as a bird sanctuary.”
In 1968 NONC wrote a very detailed report entitled “ A Brief in support of a Provincial Wildlife Reserve at Swan Lake.”