OASISS summer student Sierra Collins checks a substrate monitor at Kalamalka Lake as part of a regional invasive mussel monitoring program. (OASSIS photo)

Okanagan dock owners urged to monitor for invasive mussels

Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos lakes at risk

The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), is launching a citizen science initiative to help monitor for invasive mussels in Okanagan valley lakes.

The society is seeking community members who own private docks on Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos lakes to participate in monitoring for the non-native zebra and quagga mussels. This citizen science project is the first of its kind in the province, and will allow community members to be more actively involved in protecting Okanagan lakes from the invasive mussel threat.

Participants in the citizen science project will be provided with a pair of mussel monitors to be attached to their private docks. They will be required to check the monitors every two weeks throughout the summer for the presence of invasive mussels.

“Our Society has been checking for invasive mussels for seven years, however, this initiative will greatly expand our efforts to regions of the lakes that were previously inaccessible,” says Lisa Scott, executive director of OASISS. “Not only will we be able to improve the quantity of our data, but we will also be able to involve the community in an environmental cause that many feel passionate about.”

READ MORE: Film focuses on Kal Lake threat

Invasive mussels were introduced from Eastern Europe and Western Russia to the Great Lakes Region in the 1980s, and since then have spread into lakes around North America, primarily by contaminated watercraft. As of 2016, they are now as close to the Okanagan as Montana. B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington are still believed to be free of invasive mussels.

The current project is being funded in part by the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and run in conjunction with its Don’t Move A Mussel initiative. The society has also received a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to support the monitoring of the five Okanagan lakes for invasive mussels through both water sampling and the monitoring stations.

“The OBWB is extremely concerned about the possibility of zebra and quagga mussels reaching our lakes,” says Anna Warwick, executive director of the Water Board. “Once established in a lake, invasive mussels harm ecosystems and impact water supplies. The lakes in the Okanagan basin are especially vulnerable to these impacts.”

Zebra and quagga mussels are considered to be an environmental disaster, costing millions of dollars to provinces and states each year. In regions where they are already established, invasive mussels damage sensitive ecosystems, clog water intake pipes and water infrastructure, reduce water quality, and impact tourism and the local economy.

READ MORE: LETTER: Mussel risk too great


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First win for longtime New Westminster skip

Donna Mychaluk wins BC Senior Women’s Curling crown after five runner-up finishes

Vernon protest draws close to 40 people

Earth Strike Vernon holds peaceful rally in support of Wet’suwet’en people and land

North Okanagan Knights drop playoff preview

Kelowna Chiefs hold on for 3-2 KIJHL victory; best-of-seven series starts Friday in Rutland

Vernon gas station lowers price nearly 20 cents/litre

Super Save Gas at 25th Avenue and 43rd Street selling regular gasoline at $1.09.9

Vernon’s Fulton Maroons fall in Valley final; earn berth to B.C.’s

Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton beat Fulton in Senior Boys AA Basketball final

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

First win, fifth win highlight BC Senior Curling finals

Donna Mychaluk wins first title after finishing second five times; Wes Craig takes fifth crown

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read