Rotary Marsh History

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Rotary Marsh is an environmental project of the Rotary Club of Kelowna.  It is an estuary located just north of the Grand Okanagan Resort and Hotel where Brandt's Creek enters Okanagan Lake. Brandts Creek was in bad shape in 1992 when Rotarians John Woodworth and Art Hughes-Games conceived a plan to help the creek, the lake and give the City of Kelowna a beautiful asset. 

For many years, Brandts creek had carried industrial waste, agricultural run-off and all of the debris from the streets of Kelowna that the storm sewers delivered to the creek. The concept was to create a marshland in the bay where the creek enters Okanagan Lake with two objectives. The first was to use 'settling ponds' within the marshland to filter out that debris before the water entered the lake.  The second was to create a teaching facility to show how important marshlands are to the environment. 

It all started in 1992. A Rotary committee was formed to study the proposed project and to raise funds. The City of Kelowna Council was approached. The planning by the committee also involved Catherine Barris Associates of Vancouver who had designed similar projects. They were given the terms of reference and asked to submit a design. Armed with the final approved design, the committee had many meetings with representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments and the City of Kelowna; approval to proceed was finally received in 1994. The logistics of building the marsh included bringing in massive amounts of fill. Heavy machinery was used to shape the mounds and ponds as dictated by the design. Huge protective rocks were stationed along the lakeside edge to protect the marsh from the wave action of the lake. Next, literally thousands of indigenous trees, shrubs and plants along with over two hundred pounds of wild flow seed were planted to produce what we have today. The fundraising efforts produced donations from many sources including individual citizens, Rotary members, trusts, foundations, plus the Provincial Government and the City of Kelowna. Over a million dollars was spent on the project.

Rotary Marsh was officially opened in 1995 with the Provincial Minister of Forests officiating. The Rotary Club of Kelowna members looked after the maintenance until 1998 when the Parks Department took over.  Today, the Environmental Department of the City, under the able guidance of Richard Marsden, maintains the Marsh and coordinates it upgrades. The Environmental Committee under the chairmanship of Art Hughes-Games continues to oversee the operation of the Marsh, to monitor the expenditure of Rotary funds in Marsh upgrades and to organize needed work parties of Rotary members.  The upgrading process continues with over one hundred trees and plants being planted in the fall of 2006.

Both of the original objectives have been accomplished plus a third. Residents and visitors to Kelowna have inherited a wonderful place to visit and to appreciate nature. This has all been due to the efforts of the members of the Rotary Club of Kelowna. Make sure that you and your family visit Rotary Marsh.