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Beloved blue-listed Shuswap resident to be celebrated at White Lake Turtle Festival

Event inspired by locals’ love for the Western painted turtle
Western painted turtles get their name from their western distribution and their finely detailed red, yellow and green markings. (John G. Woods photo)

A beloved blue-listed resident of the Shuswap will be celebrated this weekend in the first local festival of its kind.

This Saturday, April 15, the White Lake Residents Association (WLRA) hosts the White Lake Lake Turtle Festival. A celebration of the Western Painted Turtle, the event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the White Lake Community Hall, 3617 Parri Road.

WLRA secretary and events co-ordinator Sharon Woolliams said the idea for the festival came up during an association meeting last fall.

“We were talking about how we should get something together again because we haven’t done a study out here for about 10 years and everybody just seems to care for our turtles,” said Woolliams, noting the Western Painted Turtle is a on the B.C. government’s blue list for species at risk due to ongoing loss of habitat. “We noticed there’s less and less of them all the time. So we thought we should do something this spring to bring awareness, so people know to watch out for them when they hatch and when they’re crossing the road to lay their eggs.

“It just morphed into having a festival to celebrate them and bring awareness to the community.”

The event will include family friendly turtle-oriented activities, there will be food trucks, vendors, live entertainment and, of course, educational opportunities including a presentation by WildBC Educator Peter Ballin.

Read more: Resident turtles in jeopardy

Read more: Column: ‘Super powered’ western painted turtles re-emerge in the Shuswap

Woolliams explained volunteer efforts to raise awareness of, and protect the local Western Painted Turtles will extend beyond the festival. She said the WLRA will be making nest protectors available, “so if somebody sees where they lay their eggs, we’ve got some nest protectors people can sign out and borrow for the year.” The group is also going to be adding four basking logs near the shoreline once the ice is off the lake.

As part of a turtle study conduced at White Lake between 2012 and 2015, the public was encouraged to report turtle sightings. The WRLA has reintroduced this initiative, and is asking people to report sightings by email to

“If anybody – tourists, locals, fisherman, whoever, happen to see a turtle, they can send a photo, the location, or the condition, if it’s a baby or an adult, if they’re out paddling on the lake and they see one, so we can just get a sense of where their habitats are and where they’re declining…,” said Woolliams.

The WLRA is also looking for people to volunteer for a turtle road patrol this spring.

“We’re literally going to help turtles cross the road safely so they don’t get run over,” said Woolliams, noting volunteers will also be urging people not to touch the turtles.

“The moms bring water up from the lake to lay their eggs. so if you touch them, they release that water in shock and then they’ve got to go back to the lake and start it all over again,” explained Woolliams. “If you see them, don’t touch them. Just let them do their thing.”

To volunteer, send dates and times you are available to

Woolliams said the White Lake Turtle Fest will be a mix of entertainment and education, and she is hopeful it becomes an annual event.

For more information, visit or email
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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