Decisions and bylaws about the Shuswap waterfront area, be it dock size, moving rocks on the beach, modifying the plants along the shores edge, are based on science. Yes, science. But... not science from the Shuswap. Many of these decisions are based on outdated information, data collected from lakes in the US or other landlocked Canadian lakes that don't have direct bearing on the unique Shuswap environment and ecosystem. The Shuswap is a unique system where the annual fluctuation of water level between spring freshette and fall low water can be as much as 12 feet (4 meters) or more. This annual flush sees over 1 trillion litres of water flow into, and out of, the Shuswap system annually. (Shuswap freshette water calculations)
Since 2009 SWOA has been focussed on providing Shuswap area waterfront owners with timely information about changes to bylaws, environmental issues, water quality initiatives, and many other things that affect your enjoyment of your lakeside property. One of the things we've done is fight against rules and regulations brought in by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Fisheries, Ministry of Lands and others who wish to control the lake, beach, riparian area and development around the lake. We've long suggested that Shuswap specific science is needed.
What we would like to see is Shuswap based scientific evidence to determine a number of things:
- Whether docks harm aquatic habitat, and therefore fish stock. If so, what kinds of dock are better/worse if any.
- Does modifying the beach to remove sharp/hazardous/large rocks to provide an easier access to the water harm aquatic habitat & fish stocks.
- Does modifying the riparian area along the shoreline harm lake shade areas or local insects/food supplies to the fish stocks
- The answers to various other science based decisions that are not based on Shuswap science.
We also had contacted various ministries of the BC and Federal government to join with us, to hopefully provide some funding, direction as to what data they need to make decisions, and contacts with other ministries. The Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) has agreed to work with us. With collaboration we can provide the needed data and reputable partners so that all affected ministries will take note. Thompson Rivers University has a Department of Environmental Science where we can access some graduate students, and under-grads who will actually do the research and prepare the reports.
Unfortunately we can't afford to do all these studies at once but we must begin somewhere. In our preliminary discussions it has been suggested that a combination of #1 and #2 is reasonable and so that is what we're focussing on. We hope to have this program starting in May with the researchers on the lake and beginning their samplings. We need your help with research sites; docks, beaches - both modified and natural. If you're interested please sign up here.
It's expensive, and SWOA does not make any money other than our $25 per year membership dues. If you feel this research is valuable and would like to contribute, please visit our Habitat Research pages where you can make a donation (tax deductible) if you wish.