A partnership is being forged to develop a management plan for Kootenay Lake.

Partners planning for Kootenay Lake

The Kootenay Lake Partnership recently launched their new website, providing residents with information on proper lakeshore practices.

The Kootenay Lake Partnership recently launched its new website providing residents with important information on proper lakeshore practices.

“The purpose of the partnership is to develop the science behind lake management planning for Kootenay Lake.” said Ryan van der Marel, the partnership’s chair/co-ordinator. “It was formed in 2010, but there was already work being done prior to that.”

Their geographic scope is the West Arm, ending at Taghum bridge, and the main body of the lake.

The Kootenay Lake Partnership started working on guidance documents, which will help agencies and their referral processes in terms of compliance and enforcement.

The partnership will also be developing a lake management plan that will give direction for all development and activity on the water, which will require community engagement.

“Currently we are working on a process called the foreshore innovatory mapping, where the lake gets broken down into various segments,” said Marel.

“Then the ecological and cultural values are evaluated for each lake segment. The second step is to develop an aquatic habitat index, which will rank the segments in terms of what those values are relative to each other, later translating into guidance documents.”

Marel said in the fall the partnership will be out on the lake by boat validating their foreshore innovatory mapping.

“We will be verifying the different segments and making sure they are consistent with the modeling that was done,” he said.

“Then hopefully soon after that we will start to develop these guidance documents. That will probably happen over the winter.”

Marel said next year the partnership will finish the habitat index and begin working towards the lake management plan, which will be a longer process involving a community component.

“What sets the Kootenay Lake Partnership apart from others in the province is that it has a strong First Nations cultural component,” he said.

Marel believes the partnership is important for the area as it will help protect and inform people and agencies of  proper lakeshore practices.

“The overall intent is to foster a stewardship ethic around the lake, where people really identify with the values for the lake and understand the ecology,” he said.

“Therefore they will take ownership over it and want to conserve and protect and do the best things for the lake in the long run.”

For more information about the Kootenay Lake Partnership, visit kootenaylakepartnership.com.

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