A scenic view of Gardom Lake with canoeists in the distance. Gas-powered boats are no longer allowed on the popular recreational lake.

Power boat ban for Gardom Lake

CSRD: Transport Canada approved request, restrictions in effect immediately.

A management plan for Gardom Lake is in the works, with one issue already solved.

It took a while, but the Columbia Shuswap Regional District finally got confirmation that gas-powered motors will no longer be allowed to operate on Gardom Lake.

At their Nov. 13 board meeting, regional district directors were advised that Transport Canada has granted the motor restriction application – effective immediately.

Planner Jan Thingsted told directors that members of the public raised the idea of a total ban on gas-powered boats during preparation of the Electoral Area D Parks Plan and the Ranchero-Deep Creek Official Community Plan.

“Following extensive public consultation and stakeholder engagement, support was given to this initiative and, in August 2011, CSRD staff submitted an application to Transport Canada to amend the Canadian Shipping Act and include Gardom Lake as a Schedule 3 water body – waters on which power-driven vessels are prohibited,” wrote Thingsted in his report.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Val Janzen, a member of the Friends of Gardom Lake, the group that started the initiative in 1998. “At that time, most of the boats on the lake were gas-powered and there were slicks of oil and gasoline residue – it was quite a problem.”

Janzen says the friends are grateful to CSRD and MP Colin Mayes, who asked Transport Canada to move the matter forward this summer.

“It probably wasn’t high up on the list of things to do; it could have sat on the desk forever,” Janzen says.

The prohibition is already in place and signs will be going up shortly.

Thingsted noted the timing is good as the regional district will begin the pubic engagement process for the Gardom Lake Management Plan next week.

Electoral Area D Falkland/Salmon Valley/Ranchero director Rene Talbot agreed.

“It has been a long process; for the last three years it has been sitting on someone’s desk in Ottawa,” he complained. “This will improve water quality. It’s just the first stage, but this is a real bonus. My thanks to staff, especially Marcin (Pachcinski, former Parks team leader). People will be thrilled.”

Gardom Lake has suffered from both invasive flora and fauna, including stubborn yellow flag iris, along with bass and perch, which were altering the entire ecosystem.

The non-native species quickly out-competed the trout population in the lake and there were declines in amphibian and dragonfly populations.

Following a 2009 Rotenone treatment that ridded the lake of the fish invaders, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. re-stocked the lake with larger trout  – a move that prompted a surge in boat traffic.

Now another invasive species is threatening the lake’s ecosystem.

“Bittersweet nightshade is terribly aggressive, more so than any wetland plant we’ve had before,” says Janzen, noting the plant is proliferating in the wetland areas. “Eradicating it is very difficult – all the roots have to be taken and you have to keep on it.”

Janzen says the plant was probably introduced to the lake by birds, who eat the berries when they’re frozen. Although the berries are poisonous to humans and livestock, some birds are able to consume enough to spread the seeds.

Meanwhile, stakeholders will consider a number of issues beginning next week. The regional district invites residents to attend an inaugural meeting  on the new management plan for Gardom Lake at the Ranchero Firehall at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24.

Mike Simpson of the Fraser Basin Council will explain the steps and process that will be in place in order to achieve the plan.

 

 

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