Posted on 21 February 2013 by Keith Lacey
With more volunteers than ever before, sold-out workshops throughout the year, great success in grant funding and thousands of visitor experiences, these are good days for the Osoyoos Desert Society.
Despite all of the success, the society very much needs the $15,000 in core funding which was provided by the Town of Osoyoos for the first time in 2012 and is confident the same level of support will be approved during 2013 budget deliberations over the next couple of weeks, said executive director Denise Eastlick, during a presentation to council Monday.
“Where the town comes in, and is so critical, is the core funding,” said Eastlick. “Without that core funding we would run the risk of losing the staff we do have every year.”
For several years, the society has asked members of council to provide annual funding and last year were successful in having their request become a “line item” during annual budget deliberations by council.
On Monday, Eastlick asked council to show the same level of support in core funding for 2013.
While members of council didn’t make any final decision, it appears they’re more than willing to continue supporting an organization that draws between 8,000 to 10,000 visitors to its 63-acre site off of Highway 3 near the town landfill.
“I just think you have a wonderful organization,” said Mayor Stu Wells. “Your successes over these past few years are incredible. You are obviously doing a lot of things right.”
Coun. Sue McKortoff agreed.
“You are making a real difference in our community,” she said.
The society’s mission is to “conserve and restore the antelope-brush ecosystem in the South Okanagan and to educate the public and inspire active concern for ecosystems worldwide.”
Through conservation, restoration, education and research, the society has been able to fulfill this mandate for many years, said Eastlick.
Two recent workshops on xeriscape techniques and building bat houses were both sold out and attracted more than 100 participants.
The society continues to operate a successful school program through funding from FortisBC and this will continue in 2013.
Desert Centre tours remain the lifeblood of the organization as 8,000 to 10,000 people participate, which adds close to $50,000 annually to the organization’s bottom line, said Eastlick.
“These tours are a big part of why we are able to remain as stewards of these 67 acres we operate,” she said.
A native plant garden, native habitat restoration, native crop study and community landscaping initiative were all undertaken in 2012 thanks to various grants, said Eastluck.
“We got every grant that we applied for with the exception of one,” she said.
The Town of Osoyoos remains one of the society’s most vital partners, said Eastlick.
“The town provides core funding that is not available from other sources, where most projects are project-based,” she said.
The society has been using the trailers at its home base for several years and they have “done the job”, but they are eventually going to have to be replaced and plans are underway to look at funding opportunities to pay for this, she said.
The society believes it’s doing a good job and hopes its strong relationship with the town continues.
“Your support does make a difference,” said Eastlick. “Your funding helps us continue to provide important services to the community and contribute to our long-term sustainability.”
Anyone wanting more information on the Osoyoos Desert Society can call 250-495-2470 or go online to www.desert.org.