The Max Lake Conservation Covenant is TLC’s first covenant in the Okanagan-Similkameen area. This covenant is co-held with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, and is the first of its kind for the Regional District. It protects 5.72 hectares of fragile wetland and stream side (riparian) habitats. The protection of Max Lake is significant, given it rich biodiversity, and the fact that over 85% of the wetland and riparian habitats that once existed within the South Okanagan-Similkameen have been lost or degraded by human settlement and development. As one of the few remaining wetlands in the Penticton area, Max Lake provides crucial habitat and performs many extremely important ecological functions.
As a child, well known naturalist and author, Richard Cannings, and his brothers Sydney and Robert, spent many a day exploring the waters and vegetation found at Max Lake. Located on the west bench of Penticton, Max Lake was one of their favorite birding spots. In fact, this is where Richard recorded the first confirmed sightings of Flammulated Owls in BC. And with 38 species of dragonflies observed at this small wetland, Max Lake is well known for its biological diversity, something that the Cannings family recognized some time ago. Protecting wetland and riparian areas in the dry climate of the South Okanagan-Similkameen is vital if the unique and rare species of this region of BC are to survive. The congruence of 3 biogeoclimatic zones in the narrow valley where Max Lake is located also adds to the significance of the area in terms of habitat values. This feature, along with the presence of a cool spring, small standing bodies of water in an arid environment, and areas of dense riparian vegetation, results in the existence of a diverse community of plants and animals.
Max Lake and its associated wetland and riparian habitats are home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the vivid dancer damselfly, great basin spadefoot toad, tiger salamander, painted turtle, western screech owl, and numerous species of bats and birds. In fact, Max Lake is one of only two known locations in the South Okanagan where the BC Red-listed vivid dancer has been found.
Thanks to the efforts of people like naturalists Anthea Bryan, Eva Durrance, Dennis St. John, and the Cannings Family, Regional Director Ruth Anne Gullen, the South Okanagan Naturalists Club, the landowners, and TLC’s Okanagan Region staff, Max Lake is now protected in perpetuity. On-going efforts by volunteers to help control invasive weeds and educate the local community and school children are indications that Max Lake is in good hands.