Located in south central British Columbia, Canada, the Okanagan Valley is home to Westbank First Nation, one of seven First Nation communities within the Okanagan Nation. The Okanagan (syilx) traditional territories extend from the south central interior of B.C. to north central Washington State. The syilx, a division of the Interior Salish, speak the nsyilxcn language and have inhabited the valley for thousands of years.
Traditionally, Okanagans (syilx) occupied an area that extended over approximately 69,000 square kilometres. The northern area of this territory was close to the area of Mica Creek, just north of modern day Revelstoke, B.C., and the eastern boundary was Kootenay Lake. The southern boundary extended to Wilbur, Washington, and the western border extended into the Nicola Valley.
Westbank First Nation
Westbank First Nation (WFN) is proud to be on the leading edge of aboriginal people. On April 1, 2005, and after two decades of community consultation and negotiation, the WFN Self-Government Act came into effect. Westbank First Nation has implemented one of the most comprehensive sets of community laws in Canada that cover the development and regulation of reserve lands. All residents and businesses on reserve are subject to Westbank First Nation Laws.
The Okanagan Valley is world renowned as a major travel destination. Mild climates combined with stunning scenery and world-class ski/golf/wine attractions create an abundance of activities for visitors. The WFN administration recognizes tourism as important to the economy and promotes tourism ventures on the reserves.
WFN and the Province are presently negotiating to move the area and AAC associated with WFN’s Woodlot into the Community Forest Agreement. WFN’s Woodlot was the first tenure that WFN acquired in 1986, under the BC Forest Act. Recently, it was determined that much of the Crown land portion of this Woodlot would become WFN lands in exchange for the WFN land lost to Highway Improvements on the west side of Okanagan Lake.
Woodlot 346 is located in the “Kootenay mix,” which is the B.C.’s eastern interior wet belt.
The Kootenay mix contains a wide range of tree species including:
- western larch,
- trembling aspen,
- black cottonwood,
- white birch, and
- ponderosa pine,
- Douglas fir,
- lodgepole pine,
- Englemann spruce,
- western redcedar,
Annual allowable woodlot cut: 1,750 cubic metres.
A portion of the woodlot was burned during the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire, and the burned timber was salvage harvested in 2014.
Harvesting on the woodlot has been deferred since 2004 so as to address the mountain pine beetle outbreak within the WFN Community Forest.