Cougar Canyon ER. 1997/1998 Warden’s report
COUGAR CANYON ECOLOGICAL RESERVE – E.R. 108
| Annual Report 1997/1998
|The first inspection of the year revealed a fire ring constructed since the last visit of 1996 situated on the north side of the most southerly lake (#11). It was dismantled and garbage removed. As no ER sign has ever been placed in this area overlooking the lake one was fixed where it should be seen by walkers at a point estimated to be on or close to the west boundary.A sign was also put in place at the north end of the reserve approximately on the north boundary. Although no trail exists down to Lake 1 from the old logging access just to the north hikers do enter from that way and a sign was put on the approximate route of travel. Young shrub and tree growth along this abandoned logging road has been bent down by heavy snows in recent years so it is now largely impassable making access to the reserve more difficult. Vernon Outdoors Club which has one of its annually scheduled hikes into Cougar Canyon now terminates short of the reserve by making its goal a climbing cliff in an extension of the canyon to the north.
|An examination was made of the valley slope immediately above the line of cliffs that includes the Weeping Wall north of Lake 1 to investigate the source and distribution of the water that splashes down along a 50 m length all year. Rather than being from a diffuse wetland it originates from a stream that divides into several distributaries as it comes down the steep, forested slope above.
| Botanical collection. South end north to Lake 8.
| At the north end a small fire ring on a large rock knob overlooking Lake 2 was removed. No other disturbance evident.
Water flow in the stream running between Lakes 1 and 2 was continuing high at this date.
|High winds during summer storms had caused breakage and up-rooting of Ponderosa pine along the main-stem lakes near Oyama but did not appear to have resulted in any downed trees in the reserve.
|Inspection at the south end; no activity
|Inspection at the south end no disturbance
|L ichen Test Rock (Lake 10) No sign of colonisation.Vascular Plants Collection of voucher specimens for deposit in a BC herbarium was continued.In 1995 a group of grape-fern (Botrychium sp.) was discovered in dense shade under Western red-cedar between Lakes 1 and 2. As they did not appear to correspond with species described in floras covering southern BC samples were sent via RBCM to a specialist in the field and to date no answer has been forthcoming. During 1997 an extension to this stand of slightly greater size was found under similar conditions about 30 m away.
|Painted turtle Monitoring (Blue List) Numbers were compiled as described in the previous annual report to give an approximation of population in Lake 11 and its fluctuation over time. Where two figures occur below, the first represents individuals counted from the high point on the north side of the lake and the second additional individuals at the east end not visible from the first location.
|26 + 15
|6–This was an extremely windy day deterring turtles from basking on logs. A majority had taken refuge where they were more protected in weed beds at the west and east ends of the lake where 24 and 36 respectively were counted.
|23— On this particularly hot day it was noticeable that most individuals were seeking cooler basking sites where they were buoyed up on weed beds making them less easy to count.
|Turtles still active but insufficient to count
|Given that an approximate tally of numbers depends on a certain degree of chance, the figures for 1997 were of a similar order of magnitude to those of previous years. Fortuitously, a more exact count was provided by weather conditions on 20th June when high winds caused most of the turtle population to seek shelter in shallows at each end of the lake; the total figure of 66 on that occasion being rather more than twice the count made under “normal” conditions at other times. This suggests a multiple that can be utilised for arriving at totals from partial observations. It should be pointed out that first year individuals are not as a rule visible on counts so the figures quoted above includes only adults and near adults.Turtles are also present in Lake 1 but cannot be estimated as clear views of the water are few due to thick vegetation. As this and other lakes in the Cougar Canyon system (except #11) are either too steep sided or too closely invested by vegetation to provide suitable egg laying sites, it is doubtful whether any carries a large population.
|Western yellow-bellied racer is a MELP Blue List species
and was recorded on three occasions –
|by Lake 11
|between Lakes 9 and 10
|by Lake 11
|The open woods surrounding Lake 11 are most similar to the sparsely treed habitat said to be preferred but still carry a large number of trees, however, the sighting on 20th June was in an area of about 80% canopy closure and a plentiful shrub layer, considerably different from what is normally expected for this species.
|At the time of the April visit a significant quantity of scat with pellets measuring 2.75 to 3.00 cm long was seen at the north end of the reserve in the broken woods running down towards the first lake. It would appear this area is used by (small) moose or (large) elk either through winter or in early spring.
|Butterfly Survey See separate report.
|Lake Country Official Community Plan No decision appears yet to have been brought down on zoning for land adjoining the reserve to the south. Complicating the matter further, and possibly causing additional delay, is the public referendum which gathered sufficient signatories last year to request disbandonment of municipal status and reversion to administration by Regional District of Central Okanagan.West Kootenay Power Transmission Line Following increased use of the hydro line road in connection with line up-grading in 1996, the road surface is looser than previously making access more difficult on the steepest pitches even in 4-wheel drive but easier elsewhere. Run-off from heavy snows of the 1996/1997 winter has causes gullying of the loose material in places. West Kootenay Power work crews continued with remaining work on their line during 1997.Time Committment A total of 46 hours is estimated as having been spent on volunteer warden activities during the year including travelling and time spent on preparing and documenting specimens at home.