The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) has received feedback from Peace region residents that Charlie Lake, Swan Lake and One Island Lake have an excess of aquatic vegetation that is detracting from recreational uses, reducing aesthetics and creating a safety issue for lake users.
The PRRD has been conducting research on how to address the concerns brought forward by residents:
- January 2021: The PRRD held a meeting with the Ministry of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship (LWRS) Operations to discuss the aquatic plant concerns in Charlie Lake.
- March 2021: Regional Board authorized staff to build a business case to obtain a permit to remove weeds from lakes within the PRRD boundaries.
- October 2021: The PRRD authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposals for a qualified biologist to investigate and develop the necessary documentation for a permit to harvest aquatic vegetation for Charlie Lake, Swan Lake and One Island Lake and committed funding for the project.
- May 2022: The PRRD contracts Zonal Ecosystems to research and develop Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) for Charlie Lake, Swan Lake and One-island Lake.
- June-Present: Zonal Ecosystems conducts fieldwork and gathers information from lake stakeholder groups.
To move forward with investigating this potential program, an Environmental Management Plan is required for each lake. Local biologist Brian Paterson (Zonal Ecosystem and Wildlife Consultants Ltd.) is working for the PRRD to develop EMPs that will be reviewed by the LWRS as part of the permitting process. These EMPs will contain general information regarding lake ecology and biodiversity, suggest areas to focus harvesting efforts, and incorporate best practices to minimize unwanted effects to the focal lakes, such as avoiding important spawning and nesting areas and observing appropriate biological timing windows.
The EMP’s will focus on the effects of selective annual harvesting of aquatic vegetation which have been brought forward by residents as a potential solution to the issues. While temporary aquatic vegetation removal does not address the root causes of the excess vegetation and/or algal blooms, mechanical harvesting with a specialized watercraft has been used in many places for temporary, seasonal control of unwanted aquatic vegetation.
The next step in the process is to gather community input. An online survey and interactive user vegetation maps has been developed for Charlie Lake, Swan Lake and One Island Lakes to document public feedback, gauge support for potential harvesting activities in each lake and identify areas that lake users feel would benefit the most from a selective harvesting program. If you have experience with multiple lakes, feel free to complete more than one survey and vegetation map.
The PRRD will be using the information collected from the surveys to gauge support for an aquatic harvester program and to incorporate data into the lake EMPs.