In the summer of 2016, hundreds of people travelled from across the Okanagan to take part in Splash Mob, a community event designed to raise awareness about the great danger that invasive zebra and quagga mussels pose to the Okanagan. Today, a film chronicling Splash Mob has been released.
Brynne Morrice, the creator of the film and a director with the Society for the Protection of Kal Lake, released his first film on the subject of zebra and quagga mussels in the spring of 2015. That film, Mussel Threat, was at the forefront of the push to get boat inspection stations installed at B.C.’s borders.
“That first film spawned a large campaign, and a lot of people got involved,” stated Brynne. “The following summer, we had Splash Mob, and over 170 watercraft formed our big circle on Kalamalka Lake. It was incredible, a much bigger turnout than we had realistically hoped for. We’ve been working behind the scenes since, with hopes of putting together a new film. Last fall, we were very fortunate to receive funding from Vernon’s 100 Men Who Give a Damn, an amazing group of guys. That funding has allowed us to make a new film.”
Splash Mob – Protecting Our Freshwater uses drone footage shot by Rubicon Aerial Cinema during the event. To flesh out the film, Morrice spent this summer and fall filming around Kalamalka Lake, on what he described as “perfect Okanagan days.”
“I wanted to create a love letter to Kal Lake and the people who care so passionately about it, as I do. Whereas the first film I made was about the fear of these mussels, this new film is meant to be more hopeful. It’s about the actions we can all take to protect our beloved lakes and rivers. I hope people across the Pacific Northwest see this film and are inspired to stand up for their local lake or river. I hope people take this film, make it their own and spread it far and wide to help people learn the habit of ‘Clean, Drain, Dry’. It’s a simple but powerful action that everyone can take to stop zebra and quagga mussels from destroying more lakes and devastating more communities.”
Morrice’s new five-minute film can be viewed at www.protectourfreshwater.ca.
Zebra and quagga mussels first arrived to North America in the Great Lakes in the 1980’s, and they’ve been spreading across the continent ever since. In the east, adult mussels have made it as far as Lake Winnipeg. In the south, adult populations are in Arizona and Utah. In Montana, however, less than a day’s drive from B.C., juvenile mussel larvae have been detected in two reservoirs.
B.C. currently has a boat inspection program in place, with inspection stations operating from April-October at all border crossings. One of those stations, located at Golden on the Trans Canada Highway, is open 24-hours. The other stations, however, only run during daylight hours. Between April 1 and Sept. 23 of this year, 22 mussel-fouled watercraft were intercepted coming into B.C.
In addition to working on his new film, Morrice has been calling on the B.C. government to raise more funds and increase all the inspection stations to 24 hours.
“With all those stations closed overnight, it’s a mathematical inevitability that an infested boat is going to come through after hours, launch in B.C. waters, and then it’s game over. Say goodbye to our beaches, our lakeshores, our fish, our clean drinking water, our summer tourism, our property values,” said Morrice, who has brought forward three ways in which the government can raise more money and make all inspection stations 24 hours; a new fee attached to the BC fishing license, a boater registration fee, and a $3/year BC Hydro surcharge. His full letter to the government, outlining the suggestions, can be read at www.protectourfreshwater.ca/our-letter, and he’s calling on B.C. residents to help him.
“I need back up. My voice alone isn’t enough. Please jump on the phone or fire off a quick email and let the Minister know that you support these ideas. They won’t happen if you don’t speak up, and we’ll enter another boating season with an incomplete inspection program.”