Okanagan Desert

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The Nk'mip Desert, on the east side of Osoyoos, is actually shrub steppe and not desert.

The Okanagan Desert is the common name for a semi-arid area located in the South Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, Canada, primarily around the town of Osoyoos.[1][2] Part of the area is called the Nk'mip Desert by the Osoyoos Indian Band, though the entire region, like other similar parts of the British Columbia Interior, is technically a semi-arid shrub-steppe.[2]

Shrub-steppe species[edit]

South Okanagan shrub-steppe contains several species of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Canada.[2][3] It is the presence of these specific plants in the Antelope-brush ecosystem that is claimed to make the area unique from other semi-desert areas in British Columbia.[2][4] The South Okanagan shrub-steppe ecosystem is a habitat for 30% of the Red-listed and 46% of the Blue-listed vertebrates in British Columbia, with several listed as threatened or endangered.[2] More than 24 invertebrates exist only in the Okanagan Desert, with an additional 80 species occurring nowhere else in Canada.[2]

As of 2009, 23 species were Red-listed (threatened or extirpated) in the South Okanagan shrub-steppe ecosystem, including:[5][6]

Over the early 21st century, many fruit-tree orchards were converted to irrigated vineyards.[2][7]

Organizations in desert[edit]

There are multiple groups or organizations located in the Okanagan Desert. The Osoyoos Band, a First Nations government located in British Columbia, runs the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre as part of its resort and winery complex, which is located on the east side of Osoyoos. The Osoyoos Desert Society, a non-profit society founded in 1991, maintains the Osoyoos Desert Centre, a 67-acre nature interpretive facility 3 km (2 mi) north of Osoyoos off Highway 97. The Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society – which focuses on the impact and relationship of the South Okanagan shrub-steppe ecosystem with Osoyoos Lake – is a community public relations organization.[8]


The region was the subject of a 1999 National Film Board of Canada documentary Pocket Desert - Confessions of a Snake Killer.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John B. Theberge. "What's in a Name". Osoyoos Desert Society. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g G.G.E. Scudder (15 February 1999). "The Osoyoos Desert Society: Experimental Studies on Ecological Restoration of the Shrub-Steppe Habitat; In: Proceedings of a Conference on the Biology and Management of Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, B.C" (PDF). B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Victoria, B.C. and University College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, B.C. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ Dyer, Orville. 2002. List of Species at Risk: South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program Study Area updated to May, 2002. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, Penticton, British Columbia.
  4. ^ "Spaces and species: South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Project". Penticton, BC: South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program. 2016. Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Habitat Atlas for Wildlife at Risk: Red and Blue List". Ministry of Environment, Government of British Columbia. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Wildlife of Osoyoos Lake and Area". Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society. 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Regions: wine is geography". Kelowna, BC: British Columbia Wine Institute. 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society: What we do". Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society. 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Pocket Desert - Confessions of a Snake Killer" (SWF). NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada.
  10. ^ Hamilton, Donald (January 19, 2001). "Pocket Desert: Confessions of a Snake Killer". Canadian Materials. Manitoba Library Association. VII (10). Retrieved 21 April 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°03′07″N 119°29′56″W / 49.052°N 119.499°W / 49.052; -119.499