An aquatic habitat index for Kalamalka and Wood lakes has now been completed by the Okanagan Conservation Collaborative Program.
While residents have expressed a desire to preserve and protect the lakes, baseline data to support these goals has not been readily available until now.
“Development of an aquatic habitat index represents a progressive and proactive approach to managing both lakes and the lake foreshore specifically,” said Susan Latimer, project manager for the OCCP.
The index uses foreshore and inventory mapping data and other data (fisheries information, riparian width, terrestrial ecosystem information and modifications such as docks and retaining walls) to develop and rank the sensitivity of the shoreline and upland areas within 50 metres of the shoreline.
“This index can be used to compare the ecological or aquatic sensitivity of a particular lake shoreline area within the lake to other shoreline areas within each lake, but not between lakes,” said Latimer.
“Projects creating this type of index have also been undertaken for other large lakes in other areas of the province and they provide a useful tool for senior government agencies and local governments to be able to assess relative foreshore values.”
Latimer says the aquatic habitat index can be used to develop shoreline policy, zone foreshore areas and direct development away from sensitive areas.
“It can also be used to direct restoration efforts,” she said.
“All levels of government can use this information to ensure sensitive areas and natural features are preserved and safeguarded for current and future generations. It is after all much easier to protect intact systems and features than it is to restore after the fact.”
Latimer has made presentations about the initiative to local jurisdictions.
The report is available at www.okcp.ca/index.
For more information residents, can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.