The City of Vernon believes rototilling on area lakes does not harm a native species of mussel, contrary to what the province things. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon council at odds with Victoria over lake rototilling

City supports Okanagan Basin Water Board’s rototilling program is not harming native mussel species

The City of Vernon says there’s no scientific proof provided by Victoria that rototilling area lakes harms a native mussels species.

Led by Mayor Victor Cumming, the city expressed extreme disappointment in a letter from Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development assistant regional executive director Ted Zimmerman said the ministry is “aware that the growth and densification of invasive milfoil may pose a risk to the Rocky Mountain ridge mussel (RMRM) through habitat change, as does the the activity of controlling milfoil through rototilling the substrate (the surface or material on or from which an organism lives, grows, or obtains its nourishment).”

“The response is based on weak science at best,” said Cumming. The Okanagan Basin Water Board are experts in this field. They are very clear in favour of these mussels being here in the long-term. In the short-term, there’s no evidence whatsoever that preventing rototilling is going to improve the situation or improve the mussels.

“What it does, for sure, is it decreases the use of that area because the milfoil then mats.”

The city has provided support to OBWB for the continuation of the milfoil de-rooting program, and the province gave its blessing for milfoil control to OBWB in April with both harvesting and rototilling being permitted. The only restriction is using rototilling in areas where the ministry says it knows RMRM live. Harvesting is allowed but the ministry’s ongoing concern is reducing the areas where rototilling is an authorized practice where the RMRM populations have been c

The RMRM is a species listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act,” wrote Zimmerman. “It is

currently under review at the federal level for designation as Endangered. This status requires adequate protection of the habitat in order to maintain viable, self-sustaining RMRM populations throughout the current distribution and range of this species. The province, along with the residents of British Columbia, have a responsibility to manage for this species.

“Balancing this requirement against the need to support tourism and local economies that rely on recreational use of Okanagan Lake is a challenge.”

Cumming said the ministry’s letter skirts around the issue of rototilling.

“The areas they do rototilling in is a very, very small portion of foreshore around the lake, and there’s lots of those mussels in other areas of the lake,” he said.

Coun. Brian Quiring motioned to send a response, saying there’s a “lack of any clear defence prohibiting rototilling.”

“We are looking for science-based evidence,” he said. “In fact, the evidence seems to exist that flies in the face of what they’re accusing the rototilling of doing.”

Quiring’s motion was unanimously supported by council.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bollywood Bang fundraiser for CMHA Vernon a success

CMHA received $33,922 from Bollywood event to support crisis line and youth programs

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP meets with religious leaders

Discussion included effect of attestation requirement and other legislation on faith communities

Vernon Lions Club “Ducks for Dogs” fundraiser a success

The event raised over $15,000 for B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs

Vernon woman heads up college foundation board

Gladys Fraser brings wealth of experience to role as chair of Okanagan College Foundation board

Vernon skier receives Cross Country Canada award

Gerry Brenemen received Volunteer of the Year Award for contributions to Sovereign Lake Nordic Club

Kelowna’s Okanagan Regional Library may not look like the one you grew up with!

New technology and arts programming transforms library operations

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Canadian Forces Snowbirds making quick trip to South Okanagan

Planes will be touching down at the Penticton airport to refuel

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Stolen car now returned to Summerland dealership

Vehicle was stolen on same day as attempted carjacking incident

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Rock the Lake music festival in Okanagan nears Saturday night sellout

Aug. 10th show is nearly sold out and three-day weekend passes are almost gone as well

Police recover $12,700 in stolen pet food from North Shuswap property

Chase RCMP execute third search of property where stolen vehicles, illegal firearms seized

Most Read