Temporary Watercraft Management Measures for Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park

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Zebra mussels in Clear Lake present a real threat of significant and irreversible damage to the lake and downstream waterbodies. To protect the long-term health of these treasured waters, Parks Canada today announced temporary watercraft management measures for Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park, in Manitoba.

Effective immediately, and for the time required to determine if a population of zebra mussels has been established in Clear Lake and for any potential remediation during the 2024 open water season only, personal watercraft will not be allowed on Clear Lake. This includes motorized boats and human-powered vessels such as canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. Swimming and angling from shore or wharfs are encouraged, as is the use of beach toys, inflatables, and personal floatation devices. This decision is informed by the best available science and Indigenous Knowledge and provides the best opportunity to battle a likely invasion of zebra mussels.

Parks Canada will continue to work with members of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, Clear Lake Marina, the Province of Manitoba’s Aquatic Invasive Species Unit, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct zebra mussel monitoring efforts over the coming months. The goal is to confirm whether an established colony of invasive mussels is present in Clear Lake and assess whether eradication is feasible.  Personal watercraft complicate detection efforts, increase the risk of spread within the lake and to other waterbodies, interfere with water sampling, and prolong the search.

There will be three exemptions:

1.  The commercial tour boat The Martese will allow thousands of park visitors to experience Clear Lake at minimal risk. This vessel will also be used for monitoring and education.

2.  A vessel from the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation will allow for cultural use of the traditional waters.

3.  Boats or vessels used by Parks Canada for emergency or research needs.

These watercrafts will be part of the research program and will be inspected regularly.

Human or wind-powered watercraft will be permitted on all other waterbodies in the park, subject to aquatic invasive species inspection and decontamination requirements.

Any invasive species in Clear Lake is problematic.  Clear Lake drains into the Little Saskatchewan River which then feeds into the Assiniboine River. These waterbodies flow through five First Nations and several major population centres, including the Cities of Brandon and Portage La Prairie. They are important for agriculture, industry, and recreation throughout southern Manitoba. They are also the source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people.  Parks Canada takes its mandate to protect ecological integrity seriously and remains committed to working with partners to reduce these ecological and economic risks.

Park visitors have a wide variety of options to explore and make memories. Parks Canada will be supporting additional opportunities for activities in the park during the summer season. Whether visiting the bison herd, hiking or biking the trails, enjoying the water, or shopping, eating or staying at one of Wasagaming’s many businesses, visitors to Riding Mountain National Park will find a range of activities to make their summer memorable.

Parks Canada appreciates the efforts made by all of those who have participated in the aquatic invasive species prevention program over the years. This support and compliance have been, and continue to be, essential in the protection of the ecological integrity of Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park.

For additional information and updates on monitoring, sampling, and zebra mussels in Clear Lake, visit the Riding Mountain National Park website or follow us on Facebook.

Source: Parks Canada News