Video and Mapping Project – Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre

Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre of Selkirk College, in concert with the Columbia Watershed Network and with funding from CBT, has recently completed a video and mapping project on behalf of the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society.  This project, headed by Kylie Morin, was done free of charge for the SLSS, and the results are now available to members of the public via the SLSS website (

The video is a bird’s eye view of the Slocan Lake watershed starting at Summit Lake.  The video follows Bonanza Creek to Slocan Lake, moves down Slocan Lake to the Slocan River, and concludes by traveling downriver to the confluence of the Kootenay and Slocan Rivers.  You can view this video by using the link on the SLSS website or by going to YouTube and requesting the Slocan Watershed Tour.

The maps examine specific attributes and activities within the Slocan Lake watershed, overlaying them on the physical mapping of the area.  Maps include the Slocan watershed’s:

  • biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification;
  • forest operability;
  • forest ownership;
  • minor watersheds in the area;
  • Provincial parks;
  • terrain inventory;
  • terrain stability;
  • water features and licenses;
  • wildlife management areas and winter ranges.

At the present time, SLSS is able to load only 5 of the maps on its website due to space constraints.  The digital version is available for loan from the Society; they hope to be able to load all of them in the near future.  The Society also hopes to offer large printed copies for sale to the public.


 Launch of WetlandNetwork / le lancement du Réseau des terres humides

Dear Colleagues,
On behalf of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) I am pleased to announce the launch of WetlandNetwork – connecting people; sharing information (  WetlandNetwork is a new website providing a single window into all types of wetland information useful to Canadians.
Available in both official languages, WetlandNetwork enables those involved with land development, planning and conservation to make informed decisions by making it easy to find wetland information resources from authoritative sources as well as share their documents with those who need them.
Land use planners, environmental assessment (EA) practitioners and EA project proponents will find WetlandNetwork particularly useful as it provides access to more than 700 wetland-related resources such as policies, best practice guides, case studies, technologies and maps.
Here are some things you can do to help promote WetlandNetwork:

Together, we can make WetlandNetwork an indispensable on-line tool that supports improved wetland conservation decision-making.
I hope you enjoy exploring, learning, and sharing all the benefits that WetlandNetwork has to offer.
Virginia Poter, Chair, NAWCC (Canada)
Chers collègues,
Au nom du Conseil nord-américain de conservation des terres humides du Canada, j’ai le plaisir d’annoncer le lancement du Réseau des terres humides – brancher les gens; partager des renseignements ( Le Réseau des terres humides est un nouveau site Web qui propose un guichet unique permettant à l’ensemble des Canadiens d’accéder à toutes sortes de renseignements sur les terres humides.
Le Réseau des terres humides, qui est offert dans les deux langues officielles, offre un accès facile à des ressources fiables sur les terres humides, afin d’aider les responsables de l’aménagement, de la planification et de la conservation des terres à prendre des décisions éclairées. Le Réseau permet aussi de transmettre ses documents à ceux qui en ont besoin.
Les planificateurs de l’utilisation des terres, les responsables d’évaluation environnementale et les promoteurs de projets d’évaluation environnementale trouveront le Réseau des terres humides particulièrement utile puisqu’il permet d’accéder à plus de 700 ressources pratiques sur les terres humides – politiques, guides sur les pratiques exemplaires, études de cas, outils technologiques, représentations graphiques, et autres.
Voici ce que vous pouvez faire pour aider à faire connaître le Réseau des terres humides:

    • Rendez-vous au www.wetlandnetwork.cadans le cadre de vos travaux de conservation;
    • Informez les membres de la communauté de la conservation dont vous faites partie de l’existence du;
    • Ajoutez un lien vers le  www.wetlandnetwork.casur le site Web de votre organisation;
    • Faites connaître à tous vos publications et autres ressources sur la conservation des terres humides en vous inscrivant en deux temps trois mouvements en ligne au

Ensemble, nous pouvons faire du Réseau des terres humides un outil en ligne indispensable qui favorise la prise de décisions éclairées en matière de conservation des terres humides.
J’espère que vous aurez du plaisir à explorer, à apprivoiser et à partager tous les avantages qu’offre le Réseau des terres humides.
Virginia Poter, Présidente, NAWCC (Canada)



Provincial grant supports lake monitoring

VICTORIA – The BC Lake Stewardship Society (BCLSS) has been awarded a one-time $75,000 provincial grant to support its lake monitoring program, which contributes to the effective environmental stewardship of B.C.’s water resources and ensures the collection of high-quality lake-monitoring data.

The BCLSS, with the support of the Ministry of Environment, has designed “The BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program” to help educate the public on lake protection and provide communities with information on their local lakes. Program activities include water sampling, training, education and technical support.

Through regular water sampling, local communities can better understand a lake’s current water quality, identify impacts of human activities and monitor water-quality changes resulting from land development within watersheds. The lake-monitoring program also can assist with early detection of invasive species, such as the American bullfrog and zebra mussel that threaten B.C.’s aquatic ecosystems.
The BCLSS has provided leadership on volunteer lake monitoring since 2003, has trained over 100 volunteer groups in proper lake-monitoring techniques and has completed 70 lake assessment reports. Through the training opportunities and information resources that the BCLSS provides, a strong volunteer-based water stewardship program has developed in B.C.

In its role as a provincewide resource for stewardship groups, the BCLSS helps British Columbians understand the effect of their actions on the environment and connect with their lake ecosystems and providing lake reports and informative newsletters. The BCLSS also provides information-sharing and networking opportunities at annual conferences and workshops and reader-friendly lake reports.


Terry Lake, Minister of Environment –

“Healthy water and watersheds are vital to B.C.’s economy and environment and thanks to partners like the BC Lake Stewardship Society, we are able to continue monitoring our lakes to ensure good water quality.”

“This additional funding will ensure the continued success of the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program and supports the work of hundreds of lake volunteers.”

Norm Zirnhelt, president, BC Lake Stewardship Society –
“We would like to thank the B.C. government for their continued commitment to the BC Lake Stewardship Society, which allows us to build on the successes to date of the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program. We rely heavily on volunteers and community-based involvement and through this funding we can provide more training to strengthen the volunteer stewardship sector in B.C. and allow us to increase the level of awareness around the value of volunteer lake monitoring and environmental stewardship.”

Rick Nordin, vice-president, BC Lake Stewardship Society –

“This grant will provide support for core staff to continue the work of the BC Lake Stewardship society which represents more than 70 groups who share the goal of having clean, healthy lakes in our communities.”

Quick Facts:
•The BCLSS formed in 1997 as a chapter of the North American Lake Management Society, and is a registered, non-profit society dedicated to the preservation and protection of B.C.’s lakes.
•In 2008, the B.C. Lake Stewardship Society was awarded $225,000 to extend the program for an additional three years.
•The BCLSS has 12 directors representing most geographical areas of B.C. on its board. The membership is made up of lakeshore residents, community groups, students, environmental professionals, volunteer stewardship groups and scientists, as well as members of government and industry.
•Currently the BCLSS membership includes over 60 lake stewardship groups representing over 6,000 people.

Learn More:

BC Newsroom – Ministry of Environment:

B.C. Lake Stewardship Society:

Media Contact:

Ministry of Environment
250 387-9630



Valhalla Park Management Plan (July 2012)

This document replaces the direction provided in the Valhalla Provincial Park Master Plan (1989).

 To view the 40-page PDF document,

please CLICK here.

Here are the Plan Highlights, verbatim, from the Management Plan:

The vision for Valhalla Park is that the park will continue to be managed primarily for the conservation of its ecological systems and special features, while offering high-quality recreational opportunities that do not impair the park’s ecological values and wilderness character. The management plan puts greater emphasis on sustaining the park’s ecological values rather than on developing new recreational opportunities. Key elements of the management plan include:

 –        A vision that articulates the key role the park will play in protecting the important ecological values of the Central Columbia Mountains (CCM) Ecosection while also providing wilderness-based recreational opportunities.

–        A zoning plan that reflects the increased emphasis on the park’s value as a key protected area which represents the CCM Ecosection; preserves old-growth and undisturbed wildlife habitat; and offers wilderness recreational opportunities with minimal facilities and disturbances from mechanization. Strategies focus on maintaining use levels in each area of the park that are appropriate in terms of acceptable ecological impacts and quality of recreational experiences. This includes a prohibition of all forms of motorized access into the park except as provided for in this management plan (i.e., float plane access to Evans Lake and boat access to sites along Slocan Lake).

–        Strategies that recognize the importance of managing the park in context of what is occurring within the surrounding landscape. This includes working with the appropriate government agencies to protect the visual integrity of the park from impacts of adjacent uses; coordinating with the appropriate government agencies on the management of roads, trails, and trailheads on Crown lands that provide access to the park; and developing a coordinated long-term approach to wildlife management with other appropriate government agencies and with First Nations, emphasizing species at risk.

–        Strategies that maintain and/or restore natural disturbance regimes (insects, disease and fire) wherever possible.

–        A strategy to develop a fire management plan for the park.

–        Strategies to maintain the current number and configuration of backcountry trails, roofed accommodation and campsites but includes the investigation and possible formalization and designation of current random camping sites along the shore of Slocan Lake.

–        Strategies to encourage low-impact recreation services in the park where facilities and public uses are compatible.


SLSS presents results of latest studies on Slocan Lake

 (published in Slocan Valley Voice)

by Art Joyce

Prevention is better – and cheaper –than cure. That’s what the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society believes, so while

the lake is still pristine is the time to take steps to keep it that way. At a presentation in WE Graham school the evening of June 21, SLSS presented the latest results of water quality and its foreshore fish and wildlife habitat assessment.

The water quality monitoring is the second year of a three-year project, its results published earlier this year. Four sites were sampled in deep waters on Slocan Lake to a depth of 100 metres. At 60 metres and below the temperature is a steady 4°C so it’s basically a sterile, stable environment. Factors like dissolved oxygen content and

conductivity are measured. Dissolved oxygen levels are critical to keeping the right balance of zooplankton in the lake, the micro-organisms that are the basis of the food chain. If there are too low dissolved oxygen levels near the surface this will tend to result in algae blooms, which can cause fish die-offs. These levels appear constant in Slocan Lake, indicating a healthy condition.

Conductivity is a measure of the dissolved ions (electrically chargedmineral particles) in the water and measures very low in this lake. 500 milligrams per litre is the drinking water standard and we’re still at a tenth of that. “If all you were doing was drinking this water you’d be in trouble because you’d wash all the mineral salts out of your system; you have to get them from your diet,” says SLSS board member Richard Johnson. In Slocan Lake the level of nitrates is consistent; samples are taken at five metres and 50 metres. “If it’s running at the same levels in the third year of the study, then we’re not seeing nitrate increases coming in from septic tanks,” says Johnson.

Phosphorus measurements were running at a much higher level in the of algae or plant life in the lake; this is somewhat higher during the most recent sampling year (2011). Although this bears watching, Johnson says getting a third year of data will help determine whether this is of any concern.

Another major indicator of water quality is coliform bacteria levels, particularly E. coli, which can come from leaky septic systems. None of the samples tested positive for E. coli.  Higher readings occurred at Hills where there is more fertilizer runoff from homes on the waterfront.

The study’s conclusion states that, “the parameters tested proved to be well within the Provincial Water Quality Guidelines, indicating that this oligotrophic lake has maintained its pristine condition.”

For the foreshore fish and wildlife habitat assessment, a biologist with diving gear dove each of the creek mouths. Bruce Macdonald of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans worked with SLSS volunteers to survey all 88 kilometres of the shoreline, noting mammal, bird and fish species. This work continues to build on the initial Foreshore Inventory Mapping (FIM) done in 2009 by subdividing the shoreline from 19 to 28 zones for more detailed data collection.

Fish species observed include burbot (also known as freshwater ling cod), kokanee, suckers, mountain whitefish, northern pike minnow, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and two varieties of sculpin. FIM results show primarily low impacts due to low levels of lakeshore development. Of the total shoreline, 80 kilometres are undisturbed (8.7 percent) but it only takes 30 percent disturbance for ecosystem changes to occur. The shoreline is predominantly gravel beaches, rocky shores and cliffs or bluffs; gravel beaches are important fish spawning areas. Unfortunately a third of these areas have been disturbed.

Wildlife trees on the shoreline were noted. “People often think they’re doing a service by cutting down dead trees along lakeshore,” says Johnson. “But as a result families of flickers and woodpeckers are displaced.” Chickadees, bats and mergansers also nest in tree holes while ospreys and eagles nest in dead treetops.

Another area of concern noted was groynes or rock walls built on waterfront properties. By removing large rocks from the shoreline to build these barriers, an important shelter for minnows is lost, increasing their potential mortality rate.

Among the recommendations of the foreshore fish and wildlife habitat assessment: a wildlife tree survey within 30 metres of the shoreline to identify nesting potential; identification of wildlife movement corridors and developments in these areas minimized; more detailed habitat assessments of creek mouths; rigorous fish sampling for the entire lake; a long-term creel and angler survey; and a baseline database of Bonanza marsh.

Recommendations from the water quality study include: continuing the nearshore sampling program for a minimum of a year; focusing monitoring on septic runoff and coliform leaching; continuing the offshore monitoring program; taking readings monthly over a minimum of a year; and continued zooplankton sampling.


BC Lake Stewardship Society conference discusses public engagement

(published in Slocan Valley Voice)

 by Art Joyce

We all want to do our best to protect the clean waters of Slocan Lake, but how? How do you engage enough of

the community to make this happen?  What partnerships need to be built in order to get support from various

levels of government? These were some of the questions discussed at the BC Lake Stewardship Society

conference Saturday session on June 9.  Entitled Deep, Dark and Blue: Exploring the Mysteries of Lakes, the three-day conference held at Silverton’s Memorial Hall featured speakers from Parks Canada, the Ministry of environment, the BC Lake Stewardship Society, and other environmental consultants.

The panelists for the discussion were Hillary Elliott, Village of Slocan councillor; Deb Epps of the Ministry of Environment; Suzanne Ashmore, a volunteer with the East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership; and Sangita Sudan with the RDCK.

How does a group initiate or engage local governments in a lake management planning process? Or vice versa, how

do they engage citizens in the process?  Elliott pointed out that there’s no one right answer, but many. Creating partnerships is key. Having a local biologist assist the SLSS draft lake management plan was important. “You can initiate the idea in the community that water is important; it can be worked into Official Community Plans,” she said. Petitions for a lake management plan can exert pressure on upper levels of government. Epps spoke of the Saltspring Island initiative, which began with different groups working toward a similar goal. The groups decided to bring their efforts under a single umbrella and were eventually able to make it a local government-led initiative. Ashmore agreed, adding, “I can’t emphasize enough collaboration and integration. We now have 18 partners in the East Kootenay plan.”

How do you direct petitions to change regulations, such as an OCP? Sudan advised going to both planning departments and Regional District boards. Elliott agreed, saying it’s important to find as many leverage points as possible. Both regional directors and municipal councillors worked with SLSS to ensure a seat at the RDCK table. Good media relations are another important factor, Elliott said, making sure the message of lake management gets out.

What does a lake management plan consist of in terms of short- and longterm goals? Ashmore said “the first

part is science, the second is social,” indicating the need both to acquire accurate data on lake ecosystems as well

as engage the public in its preservation through community potlucks and other social events. Sudan pointed to the role of the local DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) officer in helping create a liaison between interest groups and helping define terms of reference. “One thing that’s different from East Kootenay that’s being done in the West Kootenay will be an archaeological assessment in addition to the aquatic habitat index,” she said. “Then comes the process of public engagement with guidelines.” Epps said consultation with landowners and other stakeholders will help set terms of reference: Is the water quality already good and you want to maintain it? Or is it in need of restoration? A lake management plan takes the science and adds the social, cultural and economic values.

SLSS board member Richard Johnson asked the critical question: “How do we make sure that the planning process is followed through? How do we have any confidence that our children are going to be protected by the document

we’ve created?” After all, OCPs are useful as ‘visioning’ documents but aren’t binding in any jurisdictional sense.

Sudan said zoning bylaws are the “only heavy-handed tool the Regional District has in terms of regulations.” Area H

Director Walter Popoff explained that effective implementation comes through an Area Planning Committee (APC) with members of SLSS, RDCK directors and members of the public. The APC can then make recommendations to the RDCK board for both zoning policy and implementation.

SLSS member Margaret Hartley added that some areas of the province have Riparian Area Regulations we don’t have here, adding another layer of protection to lake management plans.  “Prevention is costly but it’s not as costly as control and eradication efforts once an invasive species such as zebra mussels are established. Why not put the money in now, before it’s a problem?”

Given the current Conservative government’s budget bill, eliminating federal environmental assessment regulations, this reporter asked the panel if they felt any responsibility to exert pressure upward in the bureaucratic chain of command. “Unfortunately that’s not the way government is organized,” answered Elliott. “I can go and talk to

the federal government but I’m only one person representing only 300 people in my community. But if 10,000 people do it then much more pressure can be exerted.” Yet many citizens are already doing this and feeling ignored. Elliott acknowledged this frustration and lack of communication with higher levels of government.

Once a plan is finished, how do you measure success? Elliott stressed the importance of volunteers, who can do everything from being board members to getting out in a boat to help monitor water quality. “Volunteers are success. It’s a process that builds upon itself constantly.” “You have to get buy-in from politicians and you need local champions,” added Sudan. “The local champions could be ministry people. If you could implement one thing the plan says, then that’s success. It’s not always successful, it’s a struggle. It’s just one step at a time.”


Controversial Floodplain Bylaw Sticks for Slocan Lake Property in Valhalla Park

by Timothy Schafer

From the Valley VOICE. Reprinted with permission.

A controversial development proposed for a private property located on Slocan Lake, within the boundaries of Valhalla Provincial Park, has had a setback in its bid for a setback relaxation.

The property owners applied for the setback relaxation in August 2011, asking for the 15-metre setback requirement in the floodplain bylaw to be relaxed to five metres to allow them to build a residence closer to the water.

On January 19, the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors denied the owners an exemption from the floodplain bylaw.

Although RDCK staff recommended that the board consider a 10-metre setback instead, the board did not go for that, either. In order to grant an exemption to the floodplain bylaw, the board must be convinced that there is hardship involved.

Area H Director Walter Popoff explained that the original cabin on the property is 20 metres up from the lake, and the owner intends to dismantle that cabin. “So in that view [of the dismantle], we felt there will already be a building site available for him since the cabin was built there, and there didn’t seem to be any significant hardship in reconstructing on the same building site,” he said.

The engineer Turner contracted to do a feasibility study on the property felt the five-metre relaxation would still keep a new structure safe from any excessive wave action.

“But for us to exempt a bylaw just because it is safe to build closer to the water is not really sufficient information for us,” said Popoff.

The applicant had to demonstrate significant hardship from complying with the original 15-metre bylaw setback, which he was not able to do, Popoff explained.

Having no road access or power, the property is characterized by a rocky southwest shoreline with site restrictions related to topography, approximately three kilometres north of the Village of Slocan. The property slope is at a 30-degree gradient for most of the land above Slocan Lake. As a result, placing a structure on the property would require manual labour and the use of solar power, so maximization of southern exposure is important.

When the matter first came before the RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee in October 2011, staff recommended granting the owners’ request for a five-metre setback, subject to approval of a site remediation plan. RDCK Senior Planner Meeri Durand wrote in a report to the committee that if the owners had to build elsewhere than close to the water, it would result in further land clearing and modification. She also pointed out that the structure had to be exposed to maximize alternative power generation.

Durand said a professional report dismissed impacts to Slocan Lake as negligible as long as appropriate mitigation measures were taken, and these would be included in the development permit.

But the request sparked some opposition, from public and private concerns. The Slocan Lake Stewardship Society, Senior Habitat Biologist Tola Cooper with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Habitat Officer Terry Anderson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations all advised against the floodplain setback change.

The next hurdle for the property owners is to get a development permit. According to the area’s Official Community Plan, any development within 30 metres of the high water mark needs to be assessed for impacts to riparian values and fish habitat.

Because the relaxation was denied on the floodplain bylaw, it is expected the RDCK planning manager will not recommend that the development be closer than 15 metres from the high water mark.


RDCK grapples with Slocan Lake Floodplain Relaxation Request

by Timothy Schafer

From Valley Voice newspaper, Nov. 2, 2011 issue of the Valley VOICE. Reprinted with permission.

Owners of a private property within Valhalla Provincial Park boundaries will have to wait a little longer for a Regional District board decision on their request to have a floodplain setback relaxed so they can build closer to the shore of Slocan Lake.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay Rural Affairs Committee has referred the controversial matter back to RDCK staff for a site review, said committee chair and Area D Director Andy Shadrack.
“Some information came to light and staff wanted to go and check the site in relation to the reports that have been received,” he said. “There appears to be a contradiction in one of the reports and the information supplied to the Regional District, so we have to look at it [again].”
The owners applied for the setback relaxation in August.
The 1.72-acre Area H property owned by Richard and Endang Turner of Oyama, south of Vernon, is within the boundaries of Valhalla Provincial Park. Having no road access or power, it is characterized by a rocky southwest shoreline with site restrictions related to topography, approximately three kilometres north of the Village of Slocan.
The property slope is at a 30-degree gradient for most of the land above Slocan Lake. As a result, placing a structure on the property would require manual labour and the use of solar power, so maximization of southern exposure is important.
In a report dated October 19 to the RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee, Senior Planner Meeri Durand recommended the floodplain setback be changed from 15 metres to five metres, as the owners had requested, subject to approval of a site remediation plan.
It was felt that if the owners had to place a structure somewhere else on the property, it would result in further land clearing and modification, Durand said in the report. The structure had to be exposed to maximize alternative power generation.
Durand said a professional report dismissed impacts to Slocan Lake as negligible as long as appropriate mitigation measures were taken, and these would be included in the development permit.
“The relative isolation of this property and adjacent properties would indicate the circumstances of this application are unique and cannot be construed as setting precedence,” Durand said in her report to the committee.
But the request has sparked some opposition, from public and private concerns. The Slocan Lake Stewardship Society is against allowing the request, even though a site report notes that the beach has been disturbed and no longer provides fish habitat.
“To use the illegally degraded state of the beach as a reason to allow development is to reward those who have disturbed it,” said society president Therese DesCamp in a letter to RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee. “It is far more appropriate to recommend restoration of the foreshore than to recommend the relaxation of rules that protect the foreshore from further disturbance.”
Area H Director Walter Popoff also opposes approving the setback, citing the .7-metre freeboard wave allowance – for wind setup and wave run-up on the shore – to be too low. He said it is more appropriate to set the allowance at two metres, the height of the waves that caused significant damage to the Silverton breakwater on May 28, 2001.
“This … would be more reflective of the actual wave action during the high windstorm on Slocan Lake,” he said.
A report on the property states the slopes are well drained and stable, and the proposed building site is above the flood construction level for the lake.
Senior Habitat Biologist Tola Cooper with Fisheries and Oceans Canada feels a reduction in the setback is not acceptable, especially with the riparian area already lacking.
“[This] may set a precedence that will result in increased impacts along the lake,” Cooper said.
Habitat Officer Terry Anderson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources also advised against the floodplain setback change.
The building is proposed to be approximately 1,205 square feet, post and beam or log structure with pier and post foundation. It would use a closed septic tank installed near the house and liquid waste would be pumped into a sewage disposal field in the upland section of the lot.”


Algal Bloom in Bigalow Bay

In August an algal bloom was reported in Bigalow Bay, which located on the north side of New Denver. Samples were taken by Margaret Hartley and sent to Passmore Labs for analysis. The following is a copy of the report from the lab.

Page 1 of Algal report.

Page 2 of Algal Report

Page 3 of Algal Report