Milfoil problem growing for residents of Christina Lake

RDKB Director of Environmental Services Alan Stanley explains the possible courses of action to combat the invasion of Eurasian milfoil in Christina Lake.

There will be tough choices to make when it comes to the Eurasian milfoil plant in Christina Lake.

That’s the message that RDKB Director of Environmental Services Alan Stanley wanted to get across during a meeting last week at Christina Lake.

“We have to make a decision,” Stanley says. “Do we expand the program or do we cut it, or do we just stop doing stuff on certain sites.”

In the first 10 years, Stanley says the lake went from having 7,000 plants to having 40,000. By 2006 the lake was up to just under 200,000 plants.

“In 2010 we had a particularly good growing season, which I guess for farmers we’re happy about it,” Stanley says, adding that the good growing season helped the plants.

Stanley says that the province not contributing money is also not helping, given half of the lake is a provincial park. Residents currently pay to have milfoil in that section removed as well.

“(The provincial government) started out for the first three years, back in ’92, ’93, ’94, they averaged about $50,000 a year, and then it tailed off to $30,000, then to $20,000, then to zero,” he said, adding that since then, they have contributed some money.

“The province owns over 50 per cent of the lake shore,” Stanley says. “And we’re doing all this work in parks and beaches and what not, and they’re not putting in a penny.”

Stanley says he and Area C Director Grace McGregor have met with Minister of Environment Murray Coell to convince him of why the province should give money to the Christina Lake milfoil problem over others, such as the Shushwap or the Okanagan.

“The key to this proposal was we wanted to create a body of knowledge that would be able to be utilized in all these other areas that have milfoil infestations,” Stanley says.

“There is a lot of stuff that hasn’t been done in terms of science.”

The RDKB has sent a proposal for milfoil control to the province which, if approved, would see the budget for the five-year proposal go up to $216,500 from the current $136,000, this because the province wants funds to be matched.

Stanley says the five-year proposal they came up with has two components. The first is the operation component, which would increase the capacity for removal of milfoil by having three crews to remove the plants.

The second is bio-control, which could involve a milfoil weevil.

The weevil is too expensive an option, so Stanley says they are looking into breeding the insect.

“Bio-control basically means bugs that kill plants,” Stanley says, but he cautions that bio-control, even in proven cases, doesn’t happen that quickly.

Stanley says that these options would help Christina Lake first and foremost.

“That’s my focus, but again what we have to sell to the province is that this knowledge could be transferred,” he says.