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Penticton  

Christie Memorial Beach remains overrun with an endangered plant species

Fed up with overrun beach

Casey Richardson

In an attempt to reclaim Christie Memorial Beach from an endangered plant species, Okanagan Falls started offering $500 rewards last year for anyone who could find more of the plant. 

But so far, no one has been able to find another viable location and the growth is only looking worse from last year. 

Short-rayed alkali aster can be found at the beach on the south end of Skaha Lake. While it is fairly populous in the United States and Mexico, it’s deemed extremely rare in Canada. Only eight locations are known country-wide, all within the South Okanagan.

An organization created by locals, Save the Aster Save the Beach, has been trying to encourage people to find more locations. 

“Admittedly we were a little ahead of ourselves, we did get some applicants. We did not find any actual aster on public lands which is what we require,” said Matt Taylor, president of Save the Aster Save the Beach.

The plant must be on public lands, must be verified to be the right species and it has to be an actual population of the plant, not just a solo growth or homegrown. But there’s more than one reward to give out, the organization is looking for multiple locations and each comes with the big ticket money. 

Once more locations can be verified, the group is looking to work with the federal government to take their beach off the critical habitat list, and hopefully begin work on restoring their sandy shores. 

“Once we’ve established and confirmed those other locations, then by agreement, [we] can have this one return to its prior and best and highest use,” said Okanagan Falls director Ron Obirek.

He’s been frustrated trying to clean up the beach for residents of his community, with little luck getting support from government officials. 

“It’s heartbreaking,” Oberik said. “I’ve had many community members going back years say to me they have friends and family come here and who have said they won’t come back because of how offensive the beach is compared to before.”

Taylor has even suggested putting aside a small plot of land on the beach for the plant to grow, and getting to clean up the rest for the community. 

The aster will be easier to spot when it’s in full bloom come September. For more information on the rewards, check out the organization's website or come to their open house on September 12 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 



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