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Living Lakes conducts survey of St. Mary Lake near Kimberley

Survey shows total length of disturbed shoreline increased substantially in the last 12 years
St. Mary Lake is a very popular recreation spot for Kimberley and area residents. Living Lakes file

A high level of impact on parts of the St. Mary Lake foreshore has been recorded in the past 12 years says a new lake survey by Living Lakes Canada.

As part of the Upper Columbia Basin project, three lakes in the basin were surveyed by Living Lakes Canada. One of those lakes was St. Mary Lake near Kimberley.

The survey concentrated on the area known as the foreshore — that is the area along the lake between the low and high water marks. According to Living Lakes the area is extremely valuable ecologically, culturally and economically.

“Around ninety percent of all lake biodiversity is found in the foreshore; it provides habitat for fish, nesting waterbirds, breeding amphibians, shorebirds and more. Culturally and archaeologically-significant sites may be found there. Erosion, flooding, and waves all impact the foreshore, and can cause extensive damage to properties and habitats,” the report says.

This study, completed in 2022, is a follow up to one done in 2010 and the goal is to see what changed in the foreshore area in the past 12 years.

A comparison between the 2010 and 2022 surveys indicates that the total length of disturbed shoreline increased substantially by 560 m (or 5.4%) in the last 12 years, from 2530 m to 3090 m. Much of these changes occurred over a one to two year period. Almost a quarter of these changes (23.4%) are rated as High Impact.

“The survey determined that the main shoreline modifications were roads (21%), followed by the removal of riparian vegetation for logging and new property development (including but not limited to cabins and residences, boat launches, docks, retaining walls, and fences). Due to these modifications, a “High” level of impact was measured on 23.4% of the disturbed shoreline, while 68.6% of the disturbed shoreline was assigned a “Medium” impact rating.”

Living Lakes Canada has studied the foreshore of St. Mary Lake using a federal monitoring protocol called Foreshore Integrated Management Planning, or FIMP. The monitoring can also highlight the effectiveness of lake management policies implemented by all levels of government as well as considering important Indigenous cultural values, species risk and their habitat.

READ: 2021-23 BC Fishing Regulations see changes in Kootenay region

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Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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