Program targets derelict docks on Shuswap

Several derelict docks are being removed from three Shuswap lakes.

Several derelict docks are being removed from three Shuswap lakes.

But concerned dock owners can relax. The work is being done to improve fish habitat and remove potential navigational hazards – not to impose regulations.

Matthews Environmental Consulting is co-ordinating the project, acting on behalf of the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program that consists of provincial and federal agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and BC Conservation Foundation.

“The key thing here is that this project is focused only on docks that have no claim of ownership and no tenure,” says consultant Steve Matthews. “These are abandoned, derelict docks in poor condition.”

Matthews says every effort is made to determine ownership or tenure before the docks are dismantled.

A tidal wave of protest erupted last year over the province’s plans to remove illegal docks from Shuswap Lake, and Matthews’ work crews have been challenged on several occasions.

“We have had this problem since the beginning – it rears its head time and time again,” he says with frustration. “I don’t know how many times we’ve tried to make that clear to people. We have nothing to do with compliance and enforcement, this is entirely to do with restoring fish habitat.”

Matthews says the first phase of the project involved removal of derelict docks on the shoreline between Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

Since then, it has expanded to include derelict docks on the north and south shore of the main arm of Shuswap Lake, Mara Lake and Little Shuswap Lake.

“The obvious thing is when you have a dock on shore, you’re taking habitat away from Kokanee, rainbow, sockeye, lake trout and chinook that at one time or another are utilizing shoreline habitat,” Matthews says. “When you have a structure over top, it changes the circulation pattern along the shoreline and causes deposition of fine sediments into the substrate that can impact the area, particularly for spawning.”

Because funding is largely dedicated to fish habitat, Matthews says the work is being done according to very high or high habitat values as identified on the Shuswap Watershed Atlas (cmnmaps.ca/SHUSWAP).

“That said, it’s inefficient when you go out and target high-values if you’re going right by (docks in) medium ones so we take them out too,” he says. “We’re still providing value in fish habitat.”

Matthews points to the navigational hazard created when docks are floating out in the lake – either floating out from shore during annual high water or after being released by owners who no longer want them.

He says there’s real problem with people letting docks go.

“They need to pull them themselves, instead of letting others take responsibility,” Matthews says. “I hope people will get the message and make the necessary repairs to meet the requirements or take responsibility and destroy them.”

Matthews’ crews take the derelict docks apart, separating and recycling every component they can.

To date, some 70 docks have been removed and Matthews believes there are as many as 50 or more that need to be addressed.

“I think we’re making a real dent, we’re getting a handle on it,” he says, noting he thinks funding sources should be broader-based, not on the shoulders of fish habitat restoration funding sources. “We hope to be doing some more, but don’t have ongoing funding.”

On Nov. 15, Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, on behalf of Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea, announced that under the second round of the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the Government of Canada is providing $31,300 to the British Columbia Conservation Foundation to conserve fish habitat in Shuswap Lake.

But Barb Waters, manager of the BC Conservation Foundation’s northern region, says she is awaiting confirmation of matching funds before any additional derelict dock removal can be done.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Complex-care facility adds 60 long-term care beds

Mount Ida Mews hosts grand opening of second phase in Salmon Arm

UPDATE: One dead after crash on Highway 97A near Armstrong

Police have confirmed that one person is dead following an accident on Highway 97A Friday

Multi-vehicle collision slows traffic on Highway 1

Trans-Canada Highway reduced to single lane between Salmon Arm and Sicamous

Music program discord attributed to lack of oversight

North-Okanagan-Shuswap schools struggle to retain musical excellence amidst many challenges

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

Crews continuing to clear rock north of Summerland

Site has had no movement for the past eight days

No gas in Okanagan town as lone station closed for renovations

Falkland’s Petro Canada will remain closed for renovations until March 1

Developer makes an effort to help Okanagan students left homeless after flood

U-Two developer is making an effort to help university students who were left in a lurch

Most Read