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Location: Fraser Valley, Cultus Lake
The Cultus Lake ecosystem is both valuable and stressed due to human activity. Now measuring 3 million visitors a year, this system now hosts a population of endangered sockeye salmon. This project will convene 10 stakeholder sessions, collaborate with other agencies and highlight the issues that affect lake water quality and the social interactions impeding lake recovery. Information will be gathered that includes 50 one-on-one interviews with lake users. Building upon the 2008 CLASS Issues and Topics workshop, the Cultus Lake Planning Strategy will be the comprehensive approach towards lake stewardship for Cultus Lake.
The Cultus Lake watershed is of high value, recreationally, culturally, and ecologically. It is critical habitat to the endangered Cultus Lake sockeye and other sensitive species. This mesotrophic lake is increasingly impacted by humans. Even though some science is being done to investigate human impacts on the lake, we are measuring more than 3 million visitors per year! That’s like putting the PNE in a very small water body with no sewerage, and no management of human activities. Marine underwriters won’t even insure boats on the lake anymore. Boat densities exceed standards, and exhaust fumes leave a blue haze over the water. Beyond the legislative or technical responses, Cultus solutions requires human understandings and motivations. The proposed initiative will focus on the mind-set of the Lake’s users. Cultus Lake is rapidly deteriorating, and lacks an objective champion and educator that will gain public momentum to benefit lake water quality. The Fraser Basin Council proposes to convene diverse sectors in collaborative processes and develop common visions of sustainable governance in both salmon and watershed management. Specifically, FBC will hold 10 stakeholder sessions, 6 government meetings, 50 lake user interviews and a longhouse gathering to share information. The vision is to have more people engaged, knowledgeable and taking steps to care for Cultus Lake.
Together the Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewardship Strategy stakeholders and FBC propose to bring people together and create the Cultus Lake Planning Strategy. It will result in action from both local governance and community stewardship perspectives.
Considerable work has already been undertaken leading up to this initiative and CLASS has established commitments from CLASS participants.
Since October 2008, the following has been completed, with FBC staff support:
The CLASS group has made great progress and this proposed critical planning strategy will be the catalyst to move forward on the more difficult topics within the watershed that cover multiple jurisdictions. The work in this proposal is highly strategic and will be completed in 2010-11. It will be a strategic planning process documenting where action can and will take place.
Objective #1 To improve lake water quality through the development of a Cultus Lake Planning Strategy. By stimulating good communications, engaging the diverse stakeholder interests, and developing new governance approaches, an approach to improving Cultus Lake water quality and fish habitat will be developed.
This Objective will be met by:
What will be done:
We will achieve greater community and governance engagement (incl. First Nations) and attention to critical lake issues with documentation to support this. This is the first time that an integrated, comprehensive approach is being taken in the Cultus Lake watershed.
How it will be done:
2. Bring together existing data: i.e., measured traffic counts, observable bird populations
3. Through the stakeholder engagement process to strategize lake-care actions or
4. By piloting and administering boater/visitor outreach surveys to not only capture information
As the Cultus watershed is experiencing sharp increases in visitor numbers and development, Cultus sockeye and other aquatic species suffer. The timing for this work is critical before there is little chance of recovery or the cost to address it is too high. This project will specifically invigorate the scientific understanding of the human impacts on declines and the degradations of the watershed (lake) stimulating future actions to remedy the situation.
Each listed stakeholder group is present at the Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewards table. This process includes their inputs and we have a solid 2-year record of their engagement.
The Cultus Lake Parks Board has identified a Lakes Use Plan in their strategy, BC Parks is proposing to extend their jurisdiction and the Fraser Valley Regional Dist. will be reviewing the Official Settlement Plan (OCP). All are connected thru the CLASS roundtable.
The FBC adds value in all of the above categories. On this proposal, FBC ensures youth engagement, FNs community and cultural values, bridging adjacent communities to traditional uses and setting the table to increase cross-institutional relationships. The Strategy itself will influence future policy development and action within the Cultus watershed.