Ecology

The Shuswap Watershed Council (SWC) has released a short report entitled “Understanding Nutrients and Water Quality in the Shuswap River and Salmon River” that is available on the SWC website
(https://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/_Library/TR_SWC/SWC_Nutrients_WaterQuality_Feb_5_2020_WEB.pdf).

As the title indicates, the results of three years of research have shown that the sources of excess phosphorus (P) are along the Shuswap River between Mara and Mable Lakes and along the Salmon River valley upstream of Shuswap Lake. The greatest nutrient loading is being contributed from small valley bottom tributaries that are impacted by housing, farming and commercial developments.

There is some additional research being conducted on Mara Lake to establish an historical baseline levels for the nutrients.

What’s next – obviously get on with mitigative efforts to reduce the nutrient loadings. The report indicates that development of wetlands, enhancement of riparian areas, new irrigation practices, different livestock practices and improved manure management are techniques that can be used. Results from implementation of these techniques will take many years (20 or more) to show significant results.

The SWC has place advertisements in local papers indicating that they have funds to start some projects. SWOA disagrees with this approach as the use of this money for mitigative work goes beyond the SWC mandate and is the “thin edge of the wedge” for the downloading of the cost of this work from Provincial agencies to local taxpayers. The Province has the legislative authority to write and enforce good practices. SWC funded through local tax dollars has no authority and the mitigation they are able to fund may have no effect. SWOA has voiced our opinion and we encourage you to let your representatives know your opinion.

The Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association has sent a letter to the Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy about the threat that aquatic invasive mussels pose to the lakes in the Shuswap watershed.  We are asking for more monitoring of water craft entering the lakes, rivers and waterways entering our province. Click here to view the letter sent by the President of Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association.

Earlier this year SWOA wrote to the Provincial Government urging them to strengthen their mussel defense program, especially over-night at the various watercraft monitoring stations leading into our watershed.

On September 9, we received the following correspondence:

“Reference:  347016

September 9, 2019
 
A. Clyde Mitchell, President
Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association
 
Dear A. Clyde Mitchell:
 
Thank you for your letter of July 16, 2019, supporting the Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
 
I appreciate your support for the work the ministry is undertaking to protect our water resources from invasive zebra and quagga mussels. I also appreciate the work of the Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association to keep your members informed about the BC Government’s actions and how they can support this work.
 
The Province is focused on implementing an effective, multi-pronged, risk-based approach when it comes to preventing the spread of invasive mussels. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program has been operating since 2015 and its operations undergo thorough annual reviews, benefitting from ongoing feedback from staff, partners and the public, as well as lessons learned from other jurisdictions across western Canada and the United States. These operational reviews contribute to ongoing and yearly improvements of program operations. For example, in 2018 the program added a second canine officer to help detect possible invasive mussels on high-risk vessels.
 
As you may know, one of the more recent examples of our continued commitment to adapt operations is our 2019 pilot program that will be monitoring overnight watercraft traffic volume along BC’s Highway 3 corridor on long weekends this summer. Understanding watercraft traffic patterns is a key consideration to inform any adjustments to inspection station hours. BC needs to continue to take a science-based, risk-managed approach to inform the continuous improvement of our Invasive Mussel Defence Program.
 
Through the Interprovincial Territorial Agreement for Coordinated Regional Defence Against Invasive Species, BC collaborates with Alberta, Yukon, Saskatchewan and Manitoba on enhanced coordination for preventing and managing aquatic invasive species; the initial emphasis is on zebra and quagga mussels. A central component of this work is coordination of the watercraft inspection programs to enhance the perimeter defence approach for western provinces. This perimeter defence approach extends to our American neighbours through other collaboration mechanisms, which are focused on coordinated watercraft inspection programs, as well as outreach and education.
 
Another critical component of the Invasive Mussel Defence Program is outreach and education to inform positive change in the boating community. BC and many other jurisdictions in western North America have adopted the “Clean, Drain, Dry” message, which provides a positive message to promote a change in behaviour amongst boaters to reduce the risk of invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
 
The Province has stepped up our collective efforts to mitigate the risks associated with zebra and quagga mussels. We have adopted a unique delivery model that formally links our conservation science and enforcement teams. The Invasive Mussel Defence Program is a priority initiative that will continue to take a proactive, adaptive, science-based approach that works with partners from across BC to ensure its operations are effective. 
 
Thank you again for taking the time to write.
 
Sincerely,
 
George Heyman
Minister”

SWOA will continue to lobby the government for the continuation of this important work well into the future.

We also note that, at the recent Shuswap Watershed Council, the SWC were given additional information on the increase of the K-9 units (from 1 to 2) used in the mussel defense program. Additionally, it was reported to the SWC that there is coordination between the Ministry of Environment and the CBSA both at the points of entry from the US and in monitoring of float equipped aircraft entering BC from infected areas in the USA.

In addition to check points on our highways the Invasive Mussel Defence Program includes early detection monitoring of lakes in BC. Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Society does the sampling in our region.

The Province has been conducting early detection lake monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels since 2011. British Columbia is one of the many jurisdictions across North America conducting early detection monitoring and active prevention efforts for invasive mussels.

In 2018, over 800 samples were collected from lakes throughout B.C. and all samples tested negative for the presence of invasive mussels (see map here). In 2018, samples were collected by ENV and FLNRO regional staff, BC Hydro, the Boundary Invasive Species Society (BISS), Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS), Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS), Christina Lake Stewardship Society (CLSS), East Kootenay Invasive Species Society (EKISS), Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), Northwest Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC), Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC), Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society (LRISS), Upper Fraser Conservation Alliance, Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society, Invasive Species Council of BC, and the Skeena Fisheries Commission.

This sampling is also underway in 2019 throughout the CSRD.  If you see people near boat launches with cone shaped nets collecting samples towing the nets through the water, this is the sampling work that is underway.

An excellent video on Mussel Threat - Protecting BC's Freshwater can be found here.

Provincial Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) Plan can be found here.

Aquatic Invasive Species Network website can be found here.

Zebra and quagga mussel facts can be found here.

For more than a year, the federal government has proposed revisions to the Fisheries Act meant to protect fish and fish habitat. Primarily, these revisions restore provisions of the Act that had been changed by the previous government. As well, the proposed changes are to provide clarity on efforts to both manage the fisheries and rebuild depleted fish stocks, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and set the stage for better management of projects.

Specifically, the revised Act will restore protections like protection for all fish species and their habitats, the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption and destruction of fish habitat (HADD) and a prohibition against causing “the death of fish by means other than fishing”. This means that all projects in and around streams and lakes will have to be reviewed by Federal Fisheries staff.

The Act has passed through both the House of Commons and the Senate and we understand is awaiting completions of the Regulations that are required under the Act before receiving Royal Assent. Consultation on the regulations closed on May 3, 2019 and now the regulations are being finalized. We anticipate that the legislation will receive Royal Assent in the next couple of months. We have also heard that Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are adding staff in the regional offices to manage both project reviews and enforcement.
For more information, go to www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/fisheries-act-loi-sur-les-peches/protection-eng.hmtl.

Boating season again: Time to be vigilant about Invasive Species.

SWOA has tried to keep members informed about the dangers of Invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels threatening our waterways. See past posts here;
http://www.protectourfreshwater.ca/
https://www.swoa.ca/2018/06/11/invasive-mussels/

The 2018 Summer Status Report from our Provincial Government is available at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/plants-animals-and-ecosystems/invasive-species/invasive-mussels/2018_interim_final_report.pdf.

Of the 38,000 boats inspected last season, 25 were confirmed to have adult invasive mussels. These came from Ontario (16), Arizona (3), Manitoba (3), Michigan (2), Utah (1), and Nevada (1). A second sniffer dog will be added for the 2019 season and there is new interest in possible dangers of float planes carrying invasive mussels.
As a waterfront property owner you can help by informing yourself and others about the risks of invasive species, how to decontaminate and preventing craft being launched that have not been inspected.

The Shuswap Watershed Council and the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society are putting out a Media Release which can be viewed by clicking here.

INVASIVE SPECIES
As we start to plan our summer vacations and time at the lake for boating, canoeing and kayaking it is also time to remind us of the threat of invasive mussels.

The link below is a 2018 SWOA post with invasive mussels information. https://www.swoa.ca/2018/06/11/invasive-mussels/

A passionate group of BC residents have joined together to fight for the lake they love. Their message is simple: a great danger faces the lakes and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, but we can all take action to stop it.  Below is a link to their Protect Our Fresh Water website that includes a short video featuring Kalamalka Lake near Vernon and a film from 2015.
http://www.protectourfreshwater.ca/

Remember: CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY!

Everyone on Shuswap Lake is wondering how many Sockeye are heading to the Adams River this year. Click on this link and you can see how many Sockeye have passed through the Mission counting station on a daily basis. Then look for the column headed :"L.Shuswap/Portage” for the right stock group.  Remember that Mission is about an 8 day swim from Shuswap lake.

Sockeye celebration will be held from September 28 – October 21.

Please note if driving to the Adams River to see the salmon at Tsútswecw Provincial Park (formerly Roderick Haig-Brown Park) there is a temporary speed limit of 60 kmh.

If clicking on the link does not work, copy and paste the following link into your browser.

https://www.psc.org/FRPWeb/Escapement/Sockeye_Escapement_by_Stock.pdf

Click here for the Pacific Salmon Commission Mission counting station publication website.

 

Invasive Mussels June 7, 2018

As we all start thinking about putting our boats in the water, we need to take a moment to consider if our vessel may be at risk of introducing Quagga or Zebra mussels into Shuswap, Mara or Little Shuswap Lakes. While the risk is low, it only take one boat to bring these invasive species into our lakes, potentially ruining them for the future.

Last year, the BC Conservation service, inspected 35,500 boats entering BC some 2071 of which were considered high-risk inspections and found 25 mussel fouled boats. These inspection stations are already manned for the 2018 season and you will be required to report at the various inspection stations as you transport your boat to the interior of BC.

The following information was taken from the BC Government invasive species website:

Bringing Your Boat to B.C.

If you’re bringing your boat from out-of-province, contact the Provincial Program at COS.Aquatic.Invasive.Species@gov.bc.ca to determine if your boat is HIGH-RISK and should be decontaminated for possible zebra or quagga mussel presence before accessing BC’s lakes and rivers. It’s free! Do not launch the boat into any B.C. waters until you have received instruction from a B.C. Provincial Aquatic Invasive Species Inspector.

Our inspection stations will be stopping and conducting inspections on all boats entering the province. In order to streamline the process and minimize the impact to your travel time, we are requesting a notification of all watercraft that are being transported into B.C.
The information we require is:
⦁ Where the boat is coming from
⦁ Destination location
⦁ Contact information (either owner, hauler/driver or destination location)
⦁ Type of boat
Watercraft decontaminations are free and Provincial inspectors have mobile capacity to inspect watercraft upon arrival to ensure they are clean before launching in B.C. waters. Advanced notification will help streamline this process.
If you are transporting a watercraft in B.C. it is a mandatory requirement that you stop and report to all invasive mussel inspection stations along your travel route.
Transporting live or dead Zebra/Quagga mussels into B.C. is a federal and provincial offence and those in possession of the infested watercraft will be liable.
Help us keep B.C. waterways clear of Zebra and Quagga mussels. Report suspected contaminated boats carrying invasive mussels that may be travelling from out-of-Province to the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277).

Low Risk Watercraft

⦁ Watercraft that have only been used within British Columbia or other non-contaminated provinces or states within the last 30 days, zebra and quagga mussels are not established in British Columbia, ( see the US Geological Survey map for current North American distribution)
⦁ To prevent the spread of other AIS within B.C. we strongly recommend that boaters follow the Clean Drain and Dry program

High Risk Watercraft

⦁ Any vessel or piece of equipment that has been in any province/ state known or suspected of having zebra or quagga mussels (see the US Geological Survey map for current North American distribution) in the past 30 days, or
⦁ Any watercraft or equipment that is coming from a state / province that has quagga or zebra mussel infestations ( see the US Geological Survey map for current North American distribution) and is not clean, and to the extent practical, drained and dry
Let’s keep our lake free of these invasive mussels and look forward to good boating wherever your travels are taking you.