Feds decline to declare mussel endangered

Kelowna Daily Courier – August 15, 2019

A type of mussel found in Okanagan Lake will not be declared by the federal government to be endangered.

Local water managers hope the decision paves the way for a full return of the rototilling of Eurasian milfoil, slimy lake weeds that harm the ecosystem and make swimming unpleasant.

“We’re very pleased with this decision of the federal government,” Anna Warwick Sears of the Okanagan Basin Water Board said Thursday.

“It’s a step forward, but the full return of roto-tilling will still depend on the provincial government changing their regulations,” Sears said.

If the feds had decided to declare the Rocky Mountain ridged mussel to be endangered, that would likely have led to the complete cessation of milfoil roto-tilling. The practice, which involves the weeds being yanked out by their roots by a mechanical harvester during the winter, has been used since the 1970s.

Last year, the provincial government began prohibiting the OBWB from roto-tilling the weeds in areas where the mussel has been found. Bans now exist at the north end of Okanagan Lake, in areas of West Kelowna and Summerland, and part of Osoyoos Lake.

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