What are invasive species?
Sometimes plants or animals that are not native to an area get introduced either by accident or intentionally through human activities. These species are considered invasive if their introduction and spread causes harm to the environment, economy or society.
How do aquatic invasive species affect you?
Aquatic invasive species affect everyone that uses our waters, including boaters, shoreline property owners, and anglers. These invaders can:
clog cottage water intake lines;
choke lakes and waterways and restrict use by boaters and swimmers;
reduce populations of native fish, clams, water fowl, and other species that inhabit our waters;
reduce the numbers and diversity of popular sport fish;
degrade the natural beauty of our lakes and waterways;
clog boat engines and jam steering equipment, which may lead to expensive repairs; and
foul fishing gear.
In the News in July 2018
Efforts to combat the spread of the invasive 'Eurasian Water Milfoil' plant have been in the news. Check out these articles:
July 17 - Montreal Gazette
July 18 - CBC News
In November 2016, GORA presented a strategy to Municipal Council to prevent invasive species from entering our lakes. We had attended a Public Forum where we had learned about the harmful effect of invasive species, particularly those caused by the Eurasian water milfoil plant. This plant survives in a lake by destroying all other native plants, which leads to a total decline in the lake’s oxygen levels. Not only would this result in the loss of fish life, the lake water itself would be very unpleasant for both swimming and boating. We also learned that once a lake is infested with invasive species, it is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to completely eradicate them.
With the collaboration and support of the Municipality of Otter Lake, signs were placed at boat launches on our lakes in May 2018 to raise awareness of the dangers of invasive species. In addition, signs also direct boaters to the Boat Wash Station at the Municipal Hall at 15 Palmer Street, which was also installed in May 2018.
In March 2019, GORA again wrote to Council to articulate what we see as the next steps of the strategy, as follows:
Good evening Mayor Cartier-Villeneuve and Councillors,
Over the last several months, the GORA Board and the Ad Hoc Committee on Boat Washing have discussed how to move forward on our strategy to protect our lakes.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage Council to consider instituting a by-law to require all boat users to wash their boats before launching them into our lakes. The by-law would also control access to the public boat launch on Farm Lake.
As you know, invasive species can spread from one lake to another through boat hulls, motors, trailers and live bait. Invasive species cause serious harm to water quality, fish, and natural plant life. One of the most effective ways for municipalities to help prevent invasive species is to require mandatory boat washing and regulate access to lakes.
Attached to this letter are two examples of current by-laws in the Municipality of Val-des-Monts and the Township of Wentworth for consideration.
Drawing from the examples in other jurisdictions, we propose that a by-law be implemented that would apply to boat users on Farm Lake, Hughes Lake, Little Hughes Lake, and McCuaig Lake. Boat washing could be free for taxpayers (including year-round residents and owners of cottage property).
However, fees could be charged for non-taxpayers. A fine could be imposed for non-compliance. This approach would require “access permits” to be issued to boat users who are taxpayers. This makes it simpler for taxpayers; they would sign an attestation that their boat is not being used in other lakes. For non-taxpayers bringing boats in from other lakes, they would be issued a “wash certificate” that would show they have used the boat washing station and have made a payment. The “wash certificate” would be valid for one day. The fees charged to non-taxpayers for washing their boat and having access to the lakes could be determined according to size of motor or a flat fee. The revenue that is generated could be used to offset the cost of maintaining the boat washing station.
In addition, we propose that the by-law would control access to Farm Lake. The literature tells us that the lakes that are most vulnerable to invasive species are those with public and accessible boat launches. From GORA’s point of view, attention to the public boat launch on Farm Lake should be a priority given that it is centrally located and relatively easy to access for any boat user. We propose two options to consider: 1) hire a student to work at the boat launch and ensure that boaters have a “wash certificate” or “access permit” before launching, or 2) install a gate at the boat launch which would require either a key to enter or a swipe card.
We understand that controlling access to Farm Lake would require financial resources and we are willing to do whatever we can to support this venture. Possible sources of funding could be government grants, fund-raising, corporate sponsorship, etc.
We look forward to working with you on this very important issue.
President, Greater Otter Lake Residents Association