Walk with us through the grasslands around Vaseux Lake, past the red-osier dogwood, water birch and black cottonwood trees. Ahead are grasslands interspersed with bushy antelope brush and spiky sagebrush, long golden-green bluebunch wheatgrass reach up in tall bunches. Stands of Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine stand tall against the landscape.

The endangered Behr’s hairstreak butterfly flits through the grass and below, a quick flash of blue on the ground is a western skink alligator lizard.

None of this disturbs the calm of the grazing deer.

In the distance on rocky cliffs and outcrops, perch bighorn sheep. A true conservation success story with a growing herd.

A small brown and white canyon wren peeks out of its nest on the rocks aware of the snakes hiding in the cracks of rocks.

In the Okanagan where so much land has been developed, it is amazing to be in a nature haven where at-risk species like the bighorn sheep can thrive.

“Vaseux Lake in the Okanagan is the centre of one of the most ecologically rich areas in Canada.”

  • Carl MacNaughton, Conservation Land Manager


  • The Nature Trust’s Vaseux Lake conservation area consists of 13 properties, 484 acres, purchased between 1983 and 2005. The land was purchased to protect important bighorn sheep habitat in an area of the Okanagan that would otherwise have been developed.
  • Many Red- and Blue-listed species also exist on the property, including white-headed woodpecker, Lewis’s woodpecker, pallid bat, the night snake, Nuttall’s cottontail, Western small-footed myotis, Western skink and Behr’s hairstreak butterfly.
  • Ecosystems on the property include riparian habitats of water birch-red-osier dogwood swamp and black cottonwood-red osier dogwood floodplains (a Provincially Red-listed vegetation community), grasslands dominated by antelope brush (a globally imperiled ecosystem), sagebrush and bluebunch wheatgrass, and Ponderosa pine forest and Douglas fir stands.