CoC has mussel concerns

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce wants more information on a tiny mussel that has created some big challenges in Okanagan Lake this summer.

In a letter to the federal government, the chamber recognized the deferral of the proposed reclassification of the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for further study.

The native mussel has prompted government officials to ban rototilling of Eurasian milfoil in Okanagan Lake where the mussels have been found.

However, the chamber wants Fisheries and Oceans Canada to endorse actions proposed by the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

“OBWB has requested a full public consultation process, with adequate notice and time to respond, on potentially listing the RMRM under the SARA, and public meetings to discuss the implications of the listing for Okanagan communities” states the chamber’s letter.

The chamber also wants an economic analysis to look at how the SARA listing, and prohibitions on rototilling milfoil, will affect milfoil weed growth, impacts on water quality, beach access, tourism and the local economy

In a separate letter to the provincial government, the chamber requested the government provide a permanent exemption for OBWB’s milfoil control activities.

“We reiterate our concern that any regulations that prohibit rototilling of the invasive Eurasian milfoil could allow the weed to grow and negatively impact habitat for the mussels,” stated the letter.

“There is also the reality that OBWB’s milfoil control program is essential from a social and economic perspective as the plant infests public beaches, boating areas and marinas.”

To read both Greater Vernon Chamber letters in full, click here.

– with files from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce