One of the joys of country living in the summer is enjoying a meal on the deck, but this year the wasps have driven many of us inside. It has been a bit more than a decade since the last major wasp summer and consequently I did some research to determine the factors that likely resulted in this year’s wasp population explosion in the Shuswap and throughout the southern interior. Consultant and former B.C. Provincial Entomologist Hugh Philip provided many details that coincided with the information available on the Internet.
The Shuswap’s defining features are its lakes and rivers with warm water that is ideal for swimming. Yet, if you visit any one of the Shuswap’s many beaches, you will find many sun worshippers who love floating on tubes and rafts, but fewer people who are actually swimming. What happened to the crawl, the sidestroke, the breaststroke, the backstroke and the underwater frog kick? And you cannot you even find a diving board at any of the Shuswap beaches anymore.
For the motorized crowd there is the seemingly endless water parade of speedboats, wake-boats, personal watercraft, and houseboats. Thousands of tourists flock here every summer to enjoy our luscious warm waters, but the number of people swimming is on the decline.
Reserve warden Jeremy Ayotte takes a water measurement in Mara Meadows
Shuswap’s unique valley of the gods
It is a landscape so unique and fragile that the public is forbidden to enter. The 178-hectare Mara Meadows Ecological Reserve, located in a hidden valley below the Larch Hills ski trails, protects a unique calcareous fen wetland ecosystem that is home to the richest diversity of orchids in the province and many other rare species. We recently had the opportunity to accompany the voluntary warden for the reserve, biologist Jeremy Ayotte, on his bi-monthly visit to measure the water levels.