Aquatic Invasive Species Program
The Christina Lake Aquatic Invasive Species Educational Program will be going into its fourth year, and this program is very important to preventing the introduction of the Zebra and Quagga mussels in to our waterways. Members of the Society received boat inspection training in Dover, Idaho along with employees that work at the mandatory inspection sites, and they have brought their techniques back to Christina Lake. Three days a week throughout the summer, a member of our staff and a student intern from the Boundary Invasive Species Society, will be at the Texas Creek Provincial Park boat launch providing the public with educational materials like rack cards, wallet cards and bulletins, and looking out for boats coming from high-risk areas where these mussels make their home. The focus is on preventing the spread of these mussels, but also other invasive plant species, like Eurasian Watermilfoil, that we have in this lake and do not want watercraft to inadvertently transfer to other water bodies.
Another aspect of this program involves monitoring for the Zebra and Quagga mussels using artificial substrate samplers (in partnership with Portland State University), which are checked every two weeks at five different sites. We are going into the ninth year of this monitoring, and hopefully we do not find anything, but if we do, we can respond quickly and prevent their spread to other water bodies. We are also monitoring for the mussel veligers (larvae) using a plankton haul net which is incorporated into our water quality sampling. For the last two years, these samples have been brought into the office and analyzed microscopically by our staff. A grant from MEC made the purchase of these microscopes possible, and they are used by other groups within the Boundary.
Although the Provincial and Federal Governments have recently implemented laws that deal with the prohibited movement of aquatic invasive species into the province, we still lack a provincial program that would implement mandatory boat inspections. A good model to look at is the state of Idaho, which has 15 mandatory boat inspections stations paid for by boaters who must have an annual inspection sticker to enter any water body. The cost of the stickers funds the program, and luckily for us, they have been catching mussel-fouled boats on their way to B.C. If this province is to remain mussel-free a program like this may be necessary.