THE PROVINCIAL government wants to ban boats with motors of more than 10 horsepower for seven months of the year from the southern end of Lakelse Lake and creeks there, saying it’s necessary to protect nesting migratory birds and their habitat.
The proposed restriction within the Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial Park area from March 1 to October 1 would somewhat replace a long-standing BC Parks voluntary request that owners of boats with motors not enter the area at all.
The wetlands park, established in 2004, covers 1,214 hectares at the south end of Lakelse Lake and is separate from the larger Lakelse Lake Provincial Park and contains internationally significant salmon spawning and rearing habitat and regionally important migratory and over-wintering waterfowl and moose winter range.
Trumpeter swans over-winter in the wetlands and grizzly bears frequent the area in spring and fall.
The proposed ban would include Ena, Andalas and Clearwater creeks which feed into the wetlands park.
BC Parks had contemplated a number of options up to and including a complete ban of motorized boats but decided a 10 horsepower seasonal restriction would suffice.
“A few people identified an interest in fall hunting, disabled boating access and winter snowmobile use,” the BC Parks statement indicated.
“As a result a seasonal restriction is the proposed outcome and a horsepower restriction as opposed to a complete motorized restriction is proposed. It is felt that based on public input received that a seasonal restriction (March 1 to Oct. 1) and a horsepower restriction will be the most practical solution.”
The ban would mean boats with motors of less than 10 horsepower would be allowed within the wetlands area from March 1 to October 1 and boats with motors of all sizes the rest of the year.
“While there may still be some concern it is not felt to be worth restricting use unless impacts start to occur,” said BC Parks in a statement. It is left open to allow responsible use by larger vessels that may be associated with hunting and for snowmobile use. If it becomes an issue we can revisit the applied for regulation.”
“Operators will need to be responsible and cognizant of the values to ensure that nesting sites and wildlife are not harassed.”
The Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society had been asking for a total ban on motors within the wetlands park area.
BC Parks cannot enact the restriction on its own and is making an application this winter to the federal government which has the jurisdiction to do so.
BC Parks has received approval for restrictions in other parks. At Seeley Lake Provincial Park there is an electric-motor-only provision.