The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s (RDKB) Area ‘C’ is considering alternative controls against Christina Lake’s milfoil infestation after the district reported some setbacks in containing the noxious weed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
General Manager of Environmental Services Janine Dougall reported at Monday, Jan. 25’ Area ‘C’ board meeting that fewer plants were removed by SCUBA divers hired to manage the spread of Eurasian milfoil, introduced to Christina Lake decades ago through boating activity. Five divers ripped plants from the lake bottom last year, working in teams of four. They had worked in teams of six before the COVID pandemic made it necessary to implement social distancing on cramped boats.
Divers removed around 435,000 plants between May and the end of October 2020, hauling around 80,000 fewer plants than in 2019. The team was short one diver who left to take another job shortly before the 2020 season, according to Dougall.
The program’s 2021 operating budget will swell to roughly $51,000, around $5,000 over last year’s budget. The RDKB is
looking into other means of controlling milfoil’s spread, including biodegradable mats designed to float just above the lake bottom, starving the plants of sunlight.
The program is money well spent, said Area ‘C’ director Grace McGregor. Cheaper, cruder controls like roto-tilling are not suited to Christina Lake, which McGregor said is cross-crossed by expensive cable networks. Not treating the infestation would see the plant take over the entire lake and nearby Christina Creek, which would sharply detract from the lake and surrounding areas’ appeal to residents and tourists, she added.