Osoyoos Desert Centre

Learn About The Endangered South Okanagan BC

The best time to visit the Osoyoos Desert Centre is on a warm sunny day, when chances are best for any of the unique amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals to be out where you'll see them.

At first glance, it doesn't look like much other than a desert field full of low growing, dead looking shrubs!

But really there's an interesting whole other world out there!

The South Okanagan grasslands is home to a number of BC endangered and threatened species and this area is considered one of Canada's most endangered ecosystems.

If you're out on a day trip, stop in here for an hour or so and take a walk around the centre.

There's plenty of information about the desert biome, habitat restoration and conservation of threatened and Okanagan BC endangered species, as well as the endangered desert ecosystem in the South Okanagan Valley.

This area lies in the rainshadow of the BC Coastal and Canadian Cascade Mountains, and the Okanagan grasslands region is generally hot and dry in summer. Hot, dry air from the south in summer brings higher temperatures to the South Okanagan and semi arid climate conditions.

Osoyoos BC, situated in the Great-Basin Desert, experiences climate, vegitation and flora and fauna that is distinctly unique to the Okanagan Valley.

You can learn about reptiles like the Great Basin Spadefood Toad, Wind Scorpions, the Western Diamondback Rattle Snake, Burrowing Owls, and water and biodiversity of the region, that the kids will especially enjoy!

Endangered Ecosystems
South Okanagan Grassland & Desert Plants

The Osoyoos Desert Centre and the South Okanagan Grasslands protected area contains diminishing growth of the Antelope Brush (Purshia Tridentata), a type of bunchgrass that thrives in the grasslands/desert climate.

Are you interested in drought tolerant plants? Take a garden tour of our friend Jackie's house in the interior British Columbia and learn more about drought tolerant plants.

The antelope-brush grasslands in the Osoyoos BC area are part of the larger grassland ecosystems connected to the Columbia Basin in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. These ecosystems are the product of a warm, dry climate and the coarse sediments left behind by Ice Age glaciers.

More than 60 percent of antelope brush here has been destroyed and converted to vineyards, orchards, cropland, and residential and industrial areas.

In fact, the antelope-brush ecosystem of the South Okanagan Valley is more at risk than the old-growth forests of British Columbia!

The disruption to the plant life has created a domino of effects on the wildlife habitat, amphibians like the Tiger Salamander, insects, invertebrates such as the Wind Scorpion, reptiles, and birds such as the Burrowing Owl, and is destroying the natural balance of a healthy world that ultimately helps balance our larger world. Several species here are considered at risk, and are classified by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks as threatened or endangered.

At the Osoyoos Desert Centre, you can walk through the centre along the raised boardwalk, on your own or with a guide, and learn about the biodiversity of the plants and animal species that live here. Kids really enjoy both the indoor and outdoor exploring, and spend most of their time with their eyes peeled around the ground looking for any sort of miniature life.

If you go on a cloudy day, like we did ;), you're likely not to spot much other than some prickly pear cactus and a few birds. But we'll go back again!

Okanagan BC Endangered Species

Some of the mammals, plants, birds, reptiles and amphibians that are found in the South Okanagan Antelope-brush ecosystems, and are classed as threatened and/or endangered include some of the following:
  • Badger
  • Tiger Salamander
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Pallid Bat
  • Behr's Hairstreak (Butterfly)
  • Night Snake
  • Grand Coulee Owl-Clover
  • Great Basin Spadefoot Toad
  • Western Rattlesnake
  • California Big Horn Sheep
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Great Basin Gopher Snake

Osoyoos Desert Centre tours are relatively inexpensive, about $16 for a family of four. A guided tour is about 1 1/2 hours. Be sure to check the sunburn index and take sunscreen, hats and water with you if you're going on a warm sunny day!

If you want to learn more and see local endangered species that are hard to find in the wild, the Penticton Museum's Natural History Gallery is a great place to visit! The live amphibarium is home to such antelope brush-dependent animals as the Spade-foot Toad and the Tiger Salamander. Also on hand is the Grassland diorama with examples of grassland flora and fauna like Antelope Brush, Sage brush, a Burrowing Owl and a Badger. The Penticton Museum is open year-round from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 - 5pm.

You can also visit the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre (pronounced in-ka-meep) in Osoyoos, where you can learn all about the rattlesnake research program, enjoy stories of Canada's only desert and share in the rich living culture of the Okanagan people.

After a visit to the Osoyoos Desert Centre, the next stop for fun summer activities for kids and Osoyoos attractions.... Rattlesnake Canyon or check out more of OVG's top kid fav's!

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Authored By: Erika Friedrich Copyright© 2008-2016 OkanaganVacationGuide.com All Rights Reserved