The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society is asking volunteers to help monitor Okanagan lakes to watch for invasive mussels.
This is the third year for the citizen science project.
The project is seeking residents who own private docks on Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos lakes. Volunteers will be provided with a pair of monitors to attach to their docks and will be required to check them for invasive mussels every two weeks from July through September.
“This project presents a unique opportunity to expand our monitoring efforts to regions that were previously inaccessible. By engaging residents, we can help to protect our lakes from invasive mussels,” said Lisa Scott, executive director of the invasive species society.
The project is being funded by the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s Okanagan WaterWise outreach and education program as part of its Don’t Move A Mussel campaign. This effort augments invasive mussel monitoring in lakes across the province and run by the B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.
Zebra and quagga mussels have infested close to 700 lakes in North America since they were first introduced to the Great Lakes in the late 1980s.
To date, there has been no reported introduction of live zebra or quagga mussels into B.C. lakes or waterways. However, Scott says the risk of contamination through watercraft is ever-present, making early detection crucial. The consequences of an invasion would be dire, causing irreversible damage to lake ecosystems, water quality, recreation and tourism, and municipal water infrastructure.
“An invasive mussel introduction would impact every member of our community,” she said. “This project offers a chance for people to actively participate in combating an important environmental issue that affects us all. Our lakes are central to our community and protecting them has never been more imperative.”
Those interested in participating in this citizen science project are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.