The aquatic and riparian habitat
of the Okanagan
has been greatly altered in the last 100 years.
The North Arm of Okanagan Lake is less populated than other
parts of the watershed.
Trapnet North Arm of Okanagan Lake
The location of the present day Penticton
Channel and the City of Penticton was once a meandering
natural river and grasslands.
Rowboat on Okanagan River
Motor Boat on Okanagan River
Today you will find the Penticton Channel with an outlet dam
at the upstream end coming out of Okanagan Lake.
Aerial of Okanagan Outlet Dam
Skaha Lake is the location of a potential release of Okanagan Sockeye
Historic Aerial of Skaha Lake and Penticton River
Present Day Aerial of Skaha Lake and Penticton
Okanagan Falls, a disputed barrier to fish
passage, was once the location of a historic Okanagan Nation
fishery second only to that of Kettle Falls in the Columbia
Okanagan Falls 1909
Vaseux Lake is a small lake
in the system. The focus of Vaseux Lake Park is the preservation
of riparian and wetland breeding habitat necessary to support
the local wildlife. The area around Vaseux Lake has been a
migratory bird and waterfowl sanctuary since 1923.
McIntyre Dam has been an upstream fish migration barrier since the 1950’s, but the dam was modified for fish passage in 2009. Sockeye salmon can now routinely migrate past McIntyre Dam and access the Okanagan River up to Skaha Lake Dam (Okanagan Falls), which is currently impassable.
Salmon at face of McIntyre Dam
Only seven kilometres of
naturally meandering channel remains in the area available
to Okanagan Sockeye salmon. It is proving to be the most
productive portion of the river for spawning.
Okanagan river colours
Okanagan River Drop Structure1 downstream
Cropped Okanagan River
Enloe Dam Similkameen
A major tributary to the Okanagan, the Similkameen
flows into Okanagan River south of Osoyoos Lake on the Okanagan
River. Enloe Dam, on the US portion of the similkameen does
not allow salmon passage. This is supported by Okanagan Nation
traditional knowledge that indicates that fish could not get
past a historic barrier at the same location.