Shuswap waterfront owners want data on docks

Shuswap waterfront owners want to know exactly what docks do to fish habitat.

Shuswap waterfront owners want to know exactly what docks do to fish habitat.

The Shuswap Waterfront Owners Association (SWOA) is preparing a grant application to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to help fund research into the effect docks and beach modifications have on fish habitat.

Armed with a letter of support from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the association sought and got approval for a letter of support from Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors.

A comprehensive Foreshore Inventory and Mapping project was completed by the CSRD in June 2009 and handed over to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). It revealed 2,789 docks on the foreshore of Shuswap, Mara and Little Shuswap lakes and Little River. Next on the list at 1,529 were retaining walls, many of which were built below the high-water line. A total of 200 concrete boat launches and 51 marinas were also tallied, along with 1,170 groynes – piles of lake bed or beach rocks whose construction, in most cases, required the use of heavy equipment.

In a letter to the CSRD board, SWOA president Bo Wilson noted the association and the ministry have determined that scientific research is needed to fully understand the effects these structures have on fish and their habitat.

“Discussions to date have resulted in a desire by both SWOA and FLNRO to jointly explore having researchers from Thompson Rivers University undertake direct research projects to assist in resolving these issues by providing scientific evidence for Shuswap and Mara lakes guidelines on these issues,reads the proposal dated Jan. 13.”

Several factors would be part of the study, including dock size, depth of water under the dock, design and differing sensitivity to impacts depending on area.

“At this time there is no ability for the province to fund the necessary research. SWOA has offered to help fund it though membership fees, grant applications and industry donations to ensure land use decisions are based on the best scientific information that can be obtained,” noted Wilson.

Area F North Shuswap director Larry Morgan made a motion to approve the request, telling fellow directors he thought the study has merit and is worth looking into, particularly since it has FLNRO support.

“It will be good to have some science to confirm what we already know,” added Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok.