Learning about invasive fish at the 2014 Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop (October, 2014)
Learning about invasive fish at the 2014 Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop (October, 2014)

Aquatic Invasive Species Working Group

Aquatic and riparian invaders, such as Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra and quagga mussels, and yellow flag-iris threaten our lakes, rivers and wetlands. Once introduced, these species can spread rapidly, impacting fish and wildlife habitat, biodiversity, species at risk, fisheries productivity, and water quality. Economically, the impacts can be devastating including increased boat repair and maintenance costs, damage to water intake structures on dams and depressed real estate values. Once established, aquatic invaders are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.

In recognition of these threats the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC), with initial funding from FortisBC Inc. and support from its partners, struck an Aquatics Invasive Species Working Group (AWG). The vision of the AWG is that the waterways and associated riparian areas in the Central Kootenay are protected from aquatic invasive species but where they do occur, their adverse impacts are minimized. The mission of the AWG is to provide a forum for discussion, coordination and action with respect to aquatic invasive species including, prevention, early detection, control, monitoring and outreach in the CKIPC region.

Protect our waters from invasive species.
The AWG developed and installed Clean-Drain-Dry signage at boat launches throughout the region.
To date the AWG has created a priority aquatic invasive species list (reviewed and updated annually), developed and installed Clean-Drain-Dry signage (see photo) at boat launches throughout the region, completed veliger (zebra mussel larvae) monitoring in several local rivers (see the Upper Columbia Basin Monitoring Project Report), provided regional support to the Invasive Species Council of BC’s Clean-Drain-Dry program, and developed an Aquatic Invasive Species Brochure.

In 2014, the AWG finalized the Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic 5-Year Action Plan (2014-2019), which prioritizes activities for aquatic invasive species prevention, early detection, control, monitoring and outreach within a five-year time frame and to ensure that activities are coordinated and collaborative. Annual work plans will be created to support the goals and strategies identified, and each year the AWG will review successes and challenges, and discuss next steps.

Currently, the AWG includes representatives from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, Environment Canada, Boundary Invasive Species Society, Christina Lake Stewardship Society, local consultants, Friends of Kootenay Lake, Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee, Okanagan Basin Water Board, Teck Metals Ltd., BC Hydro, Celgar, Invasive Species Council of BC, Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, Slocan Lake Stewardship Society, Ministry of Environment, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Selkirk College, Living Lakes Canada, FortisBC Inc., Ministry of Forests, Land and Nature Resource Operations, Ministry of Environment, Columbia Power Corporation, Selkirk College, East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council, Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Basin Watershed Network and Idaho Department of Agriculture.