Rein Janzen Photo Whether fishing, kayaking or canoeing, Gardom Lake users are asked to stay away from the resident loons and their nesting area near the Musgrave Road hand launch.

Protecting Gardom Lake

Lake users asked to be respectful of wildlife

Gardom Lake is thriving.

And the Gardom Lake Stewardship Society wants to keep it that way.

Sarah Weaver, secretary of the society, says a large mass of freshwater shrimp was discovered in the creek that runs into the lake, something she had never seen before.

That freshwater shrimp is a sign the lake is a productive one with good nutrients, with lots of wildlife and a lot of food for fish, says Weaver explaining that Gardom Lake is in the middle of its life cycle, with the beginning being a clear lake without nutrients to the end, when it silts in and is full of algae.

“From a stewardship perspective, we want to keep other nutrients out of the lake because it will speed up the aging of the lake.,” says Weaver, noting that while aging is a natural process, human activity can speed it up. “While the water quality is good and the lake is still clear, it’s getting higher in some things like phosphorous, so really want to educate and manage the lake well.”

Weaver says a lake management plan was adopted two summers ago by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and stakeholders, including regional district, the Ministry of Environment, Gardom Lake Bible Camp, the society that manages Gardom Lake Park, a rep from Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), Ministry of Agriculture and Gardom Lake Stewardship Society. They meet annually in an effort to “keep the plan alive rather than have it sit on shelf.”

At this year’s meeting, Weaver says there was discussion and interest in educating the growing numbers of people who use the lake, including those with kayaks, canoes and boats with electric motors.

At the hand launch at Teal Road, small bricks have been placed in order to reduce turbidity at the shoreline.

At the Musgrave hand launch, CSRD has installed a sign about the resident turtles about how to protect them and is considering signage to protect the loons as well.

“The loons are more disturbed by kayaks than by fishing boats because they come in really close to the nests,” says Weaver. “Sometimes kayaks comes between the loons and their chicks and people don’t realize their calls are really calls are distress.”

From the society’s perspective, low impact recreation of kayaks, canoes and electric motors is a welcome development, following the banning of gas-powered motors on the lake. But it is important users know and are respectful of the behaviour of wildlife.

“We still have people who try to catch the western painted turtles,” says Weaver, pointing out they are a protected species. “We’re lucky to have them, but they are on decline in many parts of the province.”

At present, the western painted turtle is on the provincial blue list. This means they are considered vulnerable to habitat loss, and susceptible to human and natural disturbances.

Habitat is being lost because of pollution and waterway interference due to damming, agriculture and urbanization of waterfronts.

When visiting Gardom Lake, Weaver offers the advice she gave to her own children when they were small: “The three Ls – look, learn, leave them alone.”