Okanagan Basin Habitat

The aquatic and riparian habitat of the Okanagan
has been greatly altered in the last 100 years.

Okanagan Lake

The North Arm of Okanagan Lake is less populated than other parts of the watershed.

Trapnet North Arm of Okanagan Lake           
Penticton Channel

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

Skaha Lake is the location of a potential release of Okanagan Sockeye Fry.

Historic Aerial of Skaha Lake and Penticton River 

  Present Day Aerial of Skaha Lake and                  Penticton Channel       

Okanagan Falls

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 system.

Okanagan Falls 1909

Vaseux Lake

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.

Vaseux Lake          

McIntyre Dam


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             


Natural section

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
                       to Osoyoos Lake 

Channelized section          


 Drop Structure


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.


COBTWG © 2010