British Columbia Conservation Foundation funds study about mussel decline

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors Society received $10,000 in funding from the British Columbia Conservation Foundation (BCCF) to help fund a study, Baseline Native Mussel Study for the Headwater Lakes Monitoring and Education: Lake Windermere Project. 

The project seeks to understand why the population of freshwater mussels have been declining in Lake Windermere. Lake Windermere is thought to have optimal conditions for the survival of mussels, so the lack of them has become a concern. The study will highlight specific locations that provide critical habitat and will use the information to inform future stewardship and restoration activities.

“We are excited to receive funding from the BC Conservation Foundation to support this important project,” said Amy Baxter, program coordinator, LWAS. “We believe this project on Lake Windermere will go a long way to answering the question of what is happening to our native mussel population. By investigating the cause of the declining mussel population, we can develop solutions that will ensure that this species is preserved for future generations. Investing in research to understand the mussel population decline is an important step towards preserving the health of our lake.”

LWAS is a registered charity that operates within the Columbia Valley and directs a community-based water monitoring and freshwater education program to monitor water quality and species, identify stressors to freshwater environments. Their project has been endorsed by the District of Invermere (DOI), the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society and the Shuswap Indian Band. 

BCFF is a non-profit charity which has been operating in British Columbia since 1969 and manages conservation projects on behalf of a wide variety of stakeholders that includes governments, First Nations, and community groups. They use all excess funds to support the small projects fund, and the land for wildlife funds, a fund used to purchase land with partner organizations for the purposes of conservation.

A total of $12,200 was awarded through BCCF’s small projects fund, a granting program that is available to organizations committed to executing a small project to educate about, protect, or enhance fish and wildlife populations and habitat in British Columbia (B.C.). Eligible groups for funding include fish and wildlife clubs, community stewardship groups, First Nations, and public entities.

BCCF awarded the remaining $2,200 in funding to the Christina Lake Stewardship Society (CLSS) a registered charity in the West Kootenays. CLSS has active since 1998 and has been involved in projects  such as water quality and invasive species monitoring, youth education, and community outreach. The funding will support CLSS to update, and create new displays in their visitors gallery. 

“We are excited to be able to support these two organizations and their commitment to protecting British Columbia’s fish and wildlife populations and habitat,” said John Shepherd, BCCF chair. “The conservation of our local mussel populations is a priority and the research conducted by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors will be key in understanding how to protect it.”