July 7, 2011
For Immediate Release
Okanagan Lake Foreshore Mapping Completed Covering
Kelowna, B.C. The Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) is pleased to announce the release of results for the Foreshore Inventory & Mapping and an Aquatic Habitat index for Okanagan Lake.
Okanagan Lake is arguably the most important resource in the Okanagan Valley, and contributes significantly to the overall economy of the valley. Okanagan Lake is a primary source of water for agricultural purposes, an obvious source of recreation and enjoyment in addition to being a major source of drinking water for Okanagan residents. In short, Okanagan Lake is a treasure and one worthy of protecting in a pristine or near pristine state for all that it provides.
In order to provide more collaborative lake planning and management, the Okanagan Conservation Collaborative Program, with support of local, provincial and federal governments along with the Okanagan Basin Water Board initiated a process to document the current condition of the foreshore to help develop a more integrated approach to watershed management. The foreshore is the relatively narrow strip of land at or near the high water mark of a body of water. The foreshore is a productive area considered essential to natural processes including the lake fishery, its wildlife and water quality.
Foreshore Inventory & Mapping (FIM) and the development of an Aquatic Habitat Index for the entire lake represent a progressive and proactive approach to managing Okanagan Lake and the lake foreshore specifically. While local residents have expressed a strong desire to preserve and protect Okanagan Lake, baseline data to support these goals for the lake as a whole has not been readily available until now. FIM results for this project include a compilation of data from the south, central and north Okanagan that covers the entire 289 km of Okanagan Lake.
The project collected baseline information about the current condition of the shoreline to describe among other things, the level of human impact. FIM was first conducted for the Central Okanagan in 2004, while the 2010 study covers all of Okanagan Lake. The 2004 results were used as a benchmark to compare results, extrapolate future impacts and to further refine the methods.
The results of the latest inventory demonstrate that a number of impacts to the foreshore continue to occur. Inevitably these impacts do threaten the health and viability of the lake and the larger watershed. For example the analysis indicates that up to 2 % of the Central Okanagan shoreline is being changed each year. While this appears low, when one considers that only approximately 43 per cent of the shoreline (125 km of 289 km total) remains in a natural state, the results are much more dramatic.
Docks were the most common modification observed along Okanagan Lake, numbering more than 2,700. Retaining walls were the second most predominant modification, with close to 1,800 observed and occupying nearly 20% of the length of the lake and with some extending into the lake. Nearly 940 groynes, typically constructed from lakebed cobbles and boulders to improve access and create gravel/sand beaches were the next most commonly observed modification. In total modification of the lakebed in some form was observed along 47% of the shore length.
Much can be learned from the data collected by the inventory and the comparison between levels of impact from 2004 and 2010. All levels of government can use this information to ensure sensitive areas and natural features are preserved and safeguarded for current and future generations. It is after all much easier to protect intact systems and features than it is to restore after the fact.
The complete report or specific sections of it are available from the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program website at:
Also the Geo-referenced video is available from the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program website at:
The OCCP would like to take this opportunity to thanks our partners for this project which include: the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Regional District of Central Okanagan, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, City of Kelowna, City of Vernon, District of West Kelowna, District of Peachland, District of Lake Country, Community Mapping Network/ Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations).