Okanagan Water Board responds to federal announcement on mussels & milfoil

Kelowna, B.C. –The Okanagan Basin Water Board is pleased to see a reprieve from the proposed federal endangered listing of the native Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel (RMRM). The matter has been referred for further study and consultation. The Water Board is now renewing its call to be permitted to continue rototilling invasive milfoil weeds at public beaches and boating areas.

“We are very pleased with this decision. It allows more flexibility for us to manage invasive milfoil, keep the beaches clean, and protect water quality” said Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director for the Water Board (OBWB). “Milfoil degrades the environment for all species, as well as the public’s access to the lake. Now we just need the province to renew our permit to operate in our historical treatment areas. We understand that this is within the discretion of the B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.”

At issue was a proposed listing of the RMRM[1] under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) which would greatly increase restrictions on the Water Board (OBWB)’s milfoil control program. Last fall, in an effort to protect the mussel, the province ruled that the board was not allowed to rototill within 100 metres of any live RMRM or shell fragment.

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