Spring Critters

Copyright: Heidi I. Koehler

Spring is upon us and the animals of farm and field.
It's a good time to see nature when everything is lush and green...because it doesn't last long in the Thompson-Nicola. This land is quite arid and in summer time becomes almost devoid of green with the exception of the irrigated alfalfa fields and the needles of the Ponderosa pine. Bunch grass turns yellow and the sage that discretely speckled the landscape in Spring becomes glaringly obvious as the season changes.
Right now cows have their calves, deer are wandering in the pastures, marmots are peering out of their burrows and birds are looking for mates...or planning their new families in the case of lifers like geese.
I noticed with interest that the doves around here don't seem to be afraid of the ospreys...they were more nervous of me actually. Speaking of Ospreys, the usual battle for the local nests has been won yet again by the raptors...every year the geese try to take over an osprey nest and in some parts they succeed but not over the Coldwater River in Merritt. Maybe next year :)


Spring Rivers

Copyright: Heidi I. Koehler

It's been very sunny in Merritt for quite some time with a brief intermission of snow last week but May is now quite warm.
My husband and I walked along the Coldwater River towards the end of April and witnessed a young man tear off his outer wear and run into the swiftly flowing water. There were friends- some of them female- to impress and it carries on a fad that the teenagers were into over the winter. Merritt's idea of polar bear swims and aboriginal spiritual cleansing rituals.

I don't recommend doing this unless you know the water quite well and even then, make sure someone is with you to make sure you get out. I'm a good swimmer myself but I foolishly went into the Coldwater at another location against my better judgement two summers ago and thought I was going to drown- my sister almost did. We did it because 'other people were doing it' so it looked fun. The water actually moves very differently at depth than it does at the surface and creates a turbulence/whirlpool effect that can- and did- pull us under. Only the fact that the current was so swift is what propelled us to the shallows where we could come up for air.

So, with that warning out of the way, I will say that the Coldwater River where it flows through Merritt COULD be an ideal location for summer swimming HOWEVER:

The river needs maintenance desperately....unfortunately the very notion of tampering with a river in BC is akin to butchering a Holy Cow. The lower photograph clearly show the erosion over the Claybanks- as they are called- properties are slowly but inexorably being eaten away by the waters which form a gouging arc. Fish habitat is the usual concern but there are very few salmon coming up this river to start with. I actually think that carving out a new channel to funnel the main stream's current further north would create additional spawning ground not to mention reducing (at least temporarily) the amount of additional clay and soil dropping in which would also slow down erosion of the southern shore.

 Erosion of the banks is not the only issue; sediment build-up is also occurring especially on the Nicola River as it enters town. There is a yearly expenditure for sandbags to curb the flow from the street and back into the water which is great for the local gravel company. I would love to see this part of the river dredged- oh the horror! and a permanent structure put in place to prevent street flooding.

The panorama below is of the Coldwater River in Merritt.