Exploring the virtual Shuswap

December 23, 2011

Even for those of us who love outdoor winter sports, we cannot help but spend more time indoors during the winter because there are fewer hours of daylight. This means more Shuswap residents end up in front of their monitors, checking their emails, surfing websites, and watching YouTube videos. Consequently, it is a perfect time to do some exploring of Shuswap’s virtual geography.

Facebook is not for everyone, as there can be too many inane posts about some of our friend’s personal lives. But what can make Facebook useful are the links posted regarding interesting news and opinions about issues that matter to us. And there are the Facebook sites that keep us up to date on cultural and social events for some communities in our region, such as North Shuswap Events and Shuswap Groove. A quick search shows that more sites like these would help other local communities.

There are over 60 Shuswap websites listed in a bookmarked file on my computer and some of them are certainly worth sharing. For news, there are the mainstream sites such as the Observer and the Eagle Valley News. Less known, is Don Elzer’s My Valley Sun and The Monster Guide that focus on news from the Monashees, along with features on ecological sustainability initiatives.

Understanding local first nation issues should be a prerequisite for anyone who is interested in the Shuswap region. Each of the four bands (Splatsin, Little Shuswap Lake, Adams Lake and Neskonlith) has their own website that contains information about their operations and worldview. The Secwepemc Cultural Educational Society, that is dedicated to preserving and promoting their language, culture, and history is quite comprehensive and includes newspapers and information about the museum in Kamloops.  Another excellent site is SpritMap.ca that provides insight into Secwepemc values and traditions with some key historical information.

“Stay-vacations” are an excellent way to both save money in these troubled economic times and protect the environment. A good way to learn about the best places to visit in the Shuswap is by perusing a number of local tourism websites. ShuswapTourism.ca provides many ideas for where to go, what to see and the latest events to attend. ShuswapTrails.com is the best site to find where best to hike and it includes brief descriptions and helpful maps. There is also much to see and do in the Monashees, which is often forgotten as part of the Shuswap, and the best place to learn more is at MonasheeTourism.com.

Blog sites are a great place to visit because the material changes often. My favourite Shuswap blog site is Tim Lavery’s Aim High (SalmonArm/wordpress.com) that includes up-to-date news and analysis about our region, along with photos, links and commentary by some of the Shuswap’s leading thinkers. And of course there is this  blog site that includes my columns, along with bonus material, photos and links to other key sites.

Local government websites are an excellent place to learn more about the issues that impact all of us on a daily basis. The city of Salmon Arm’s site is amazingly comprehensive, as it includes a virtual tour, detailed information about all of the city’s services, excellent links and even a concise history of the community. The CSRD website is also extensive and for those interested in enjoying the outdoors, the section on parks includes many detailed plans and maps.

In many ways, the Shuswap is synonymous with salmon, and the best place to learn about the world famous Adams River salmon run is at salmonsociety.com where there are archives on previous Salutes, photos, learning resources and links to videos.  And there is the WildSalmonFest.com website that provides information about the annual Middle Shuswap Wild Salmon awareness Festival of the Arts which raises money to  expedite construction of a fish ladder for the Wilsey Dam near Lumby. You can learn more about the stewardship group involved in this project at wildsalmonsociety.com.

Caring for our environment should be a concern for all local residents, including everyone who enjoys outdoor recreation and whose lives and work depend on clean water, clean air and healthy soil.  The Shuswap Environmental Action Society’s website, (seas.ca), which has been recently improved, includes news highlights, information about our provincial parks and insightful analysis of forestry and watershed issues. Everything you need to know about Salmon River floodplain issues can be found on the Wetlands Alliance website (wa-ter.ca), including maps, history and studies. Other notable environmental sites include Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Society (sabnes.org), ShuswapNaturalists.org and the Lower Shuswap River Stewardship Society (lowershuswap.org).

No review of Shuswap’s virtual geography is complete without considering those sites that are focused on geography. The Shuswap Watershed Project’s site (Shuswapwatershed.ca) includes many downloadable maps, photos, history articles and archives, Passion columns on geography and a comprehensive educational handbook that provides learning resources for all ages. ShuswapLakeWatch.com tracks the lake level and temperature on a daily basis and includes maps, studies and web cam views that are updated three times a day. The Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process now provides an excellent website (slippbc.ca) with news and updates on its programs and key links to other helpful sites including the Shuswap Watershed Maps site that provides important fish habitat information and enables one to zoom into any area near the lakes.

Here is the December 16, 2011 Passion column and what follows is a longer version for the Watershed Sentinel, along with links to insightful websites.

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