South Shuswap Scoop, Dec 2020
By Nick Najda
The White Lake Residents Association (WLRA) has been working for over a year and a half to come up with effective and realistic solutions to ongoing sedimentation and water quality concerns for White Lake. The lake is very special because it contains nearly crystal clear water with very low nutrient and phosphorous loads. President of the White Lake Residents Association, Patrick Frank, points out ”the lake is a heavy use domestic watershed for hundreds of residents and licensed waterworks. It is used for residential drinking water and irrigation.” To go one further, White Lake is also a designated, protected habitat for the Western Painted Turtle and a number of other sensitive species and rare plants.
Because of its special features and designations, White Lake has a specified Riparian Reserve Zone as well as a Lakeshore Management Zone. This means that the perimeter of the lake is protected, reserved land. Of course, some development has been permitted over the years to meet the needs of residential, parks, and recreation users.
To help manage and navigate the complicated and sometimes competing desires of various users around White Lake, the WLRA pulled together a working group. This group is comprised of representatives from BC Timber Sales (BCTS), Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), BC Parks, and freshwater fisheries.
As a collective, the working group has identified an approximately 1.5km section of forest service road (FSR) along the northeast portion of the lake as a particular liability and source of ongoing sedimentation. As a result, the WLRA submitted a road relocation proposal to FLNRORD. After doing initial feasibility and capitalization studies, FLNRORD, BC Parks and BCTS have teamed up to approve and fund the relocation of this problematic section of the White Lake FSR.
The approved and committed plan is to relocate much of the White Lake FSR upslope and out of the riparian reserve and management areas, and to get it as much out of the White Lake Provincial Park as possible. The old FSR will be deactivated and integrated into the provincial park and campground area. Although planning and design phases have not yet been initiated, it is anticipated that the White Lake campground will be improved to become more family friendly, and the old FSR land will be reclaimed as turtle habitat, and perhaps as pedestrian-focussed ecological education space.
The next steps in this exciting project include completing road location and design, performing park and campground planning, holding indigenous consultations, and providing opportunities for meaningful community consultation. FLNRORD expects that road design and planning will be completed before spring 2021, and BC Parks is planning to begin the park amendment process by Spring 2021.
Unfortunately, BCTS has posted a timber sales auction for the White Lake south slopes. The WLRA had requested a temporary suspension until the new road section is completed, as use of the current road will result in increased sedimentation into the lake due to timber hauling along the problematic route.
As part of a White Lake watershed stewardship plan, the WLRA is discussing a Western Painted Turtle research project with the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. This project will tie into existing rehabilitation plans for Cedar Creek (at the far east end of White Lake), enhancements to the lake’s natural trout fishery, and upcoming Shuswap Trail Alliance initiatives.
For more information, and to get involved with the White Lake Residents Association, please visit www.WLRA.ca .
This article was originally printed on page 17 of the December 2020 edition of the South Shuswap Scoop Newsletter. www.shuswapscoop.ca
PICTURE: Western Painted Turtle basking at White Lake. Photo Credit: Shirley DeKelver