Protecting Foreshore Ecosystems for Water Quality on Okanagan Lake
Organization: Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program
The aim of this project is to create an educational outreach program, and a demonstration restoration site, to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of foreshore ecosystems for water quality on Okanagan Lake. This project is driven by the recent Foreshore Inventory and Mapping of Okanagan Lake (2016) that showed significant non-compliance to local and provincial regulations, and a loss of natural areas from foreshore development. This project is designed to address these issues by developing informative materials on the importance of conserving and protecting foreshore ecosystems. The materials include a primer document to lakeshore landowners, presentations to developers, elected officials, and real estate agents, and a 3D interactive display that will be exhibited at community facilities throughout the region. The habitat restoration site will rehabilitate the mouth of Powers Creek back to its natural state. The site and its interpretive signs will assist in demonstrating how foreshore ecosystems can be restored around the Lake.
The project’s three main goals are as follows:
Goal 1: Establish a framework for regional partners to collaborate on a shared outreach initiative to raise public awareness of the importance of, and ways to protect, foreshore ecosystems and habitat connectivity for the water quality of Okanagan Lake (see timeline work plan for list of partners). Objectives: (a) Develop and distribute a foreshore ecosystem primer and summary document to lakeshore landowners. (b) Create an interactive display on foreshore ecosystems and water quality, including the life cycle of Kokanee salmon, the display will be on exhibit at various community facilities. (c) Conduct presentations to local governments, real-estate agents, and development associations on the importance of foreshore ecosystems to ensure new development incorporates best practices in habitat protection for water quality. (d) Encourage other community groups and local governments to use the outreach materials developed with this project to raise the awareness of the importance of foreshore ecosystems on the other large lakes in the region including Kalamalka Lake, Wood Lake, and Skaha Lake.
Goal 2: To support on-the-ground habitat restoration activities that will protect riparian and foreshore habitat at the mouth of Powers Creek (see attached drawing of restoration works). Objectives: (a) Assist with the restoration works at Powers Creek by collaborating with local government staff, the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Program to design a restoration and monitoring plan for the restoration site. (b) Create interpretive signage to promote key information at the restoration site including how to protect foreshore habitat, and the importance of maintaining habitat connectivity in face of climate change. (c) Assist in the coordination of professional contractors and community volunteers to complete the restoration works. The detailed restoration works are outlined in Section F of this application.
Goal 3: Work with lakeshore landowners, key community stakeholders, the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society, local governments and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations to monitor and evaluate how foreshore ecosystems are being protected and/or restored around Okanagan Lake. Objectives: (a) Design and distribute a pre-survey as part of the foreshore primer document to gather baseline information on lakeshore landowner awareness of the importance of foreshore ecosystem and water quality, their current activity to protect and/or restore habitat, and their awareness of the effects of climate change on the local environment. (b) Work with local and provincial governments to explore tax incentive opportunities and policies that conserve foreshore ecosystems for water quality. (c) Prepare an evaluation report and present findings to local government.