Burrowing Owl Estate Winery has just taken further steps to help BC’s endangered wildlife, including the burrowing owl for which the winery is named. The winery used funds raised in their tasting room to purchase land and return it to both the South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls (SORCO) and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC (BOCS).
In 2003, The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) saved the day for SORCO founder Sherry Klein by purchasing her land, home to her rehabilitation centre for injured birds of prey. The site also attracted the attention of BOCS.
Both societies thought that their future at the location was assured, however in early 2013, TLC went into creditor protection and every property in its portfolio was at risk of being sold to satisfy creditors. This put both societies in a state of uncertainty, affecting nearly every decision they’ve made over the past year, and potentially putting at risk a negative effect on the amount of financial support the societies receive.
Jim Wyse, the Chair of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, was able to convince the court that for a modest fee of $50,000, this property should be released from creditor protection and transferred to the two societies so that this situation would never repeat itself.
With a land development background, Jim was able to stickhandle through the bureaucratic maze to acquire the property with the court’s full approval.
“We collect a ‘voluntary’ $3.00 donation from all of our winery visitors, and these funds are used for a wide variety of strictly environmental and conservation uses,” Wyse notes. “Every year these donations provide about $80,000 so that we have been able to provide essential funding when government sources have really dried up.”
Today, thanks to the hard work of Mr. Wyse, SORCO and BOCS are proud co-owners of the property just north of Oliver, BC where their programs operate. The future is bright for all involved, including TLC, which at last report is expected to come out of this period of protection and reorganization stronger than ever.