Cracked flotation devices with exposed Styrofoam need to be replaced and disposed of correctly, Okunev said. (Special to The News)

Cracked flotation devices with exposed Styrofoam need to be replaced and disposed of correctly, Okunev said. (Special to The News)

Paddler wants government run lake fertilization program to clean up act

Bell Corr Project have been operating on Maple Ridge’s Alouette Lake since early 90s

At least once each summer Port Moody’s Victor Okunev takes his stand-up paddle board to Golden Ears Provincial Park and makes his way along the shores of Alouette Lake.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” he said of one of the popular body of water.

Okunev is such a fan that each autumn he takes it upon himself to clean up after messy campers who don’t practise leave-no-trace principles.

He said he wishes the operators of the Bell-Corr Project had the same love for the lake.

“(The project) is supposed to contribute to the well-being of the lake ecology,” he said. “But in reality they are polluting the lake with the heaps of falling-apart equipment, most of which is plastic.

“You can find these artifacts scattered all over the lake, but most of it located in the proximity of their buildings.”

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The Bell-Corr Project has been operating on the shores of Alouette Lake since 1991. It is a joint venture of BC Hydro, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Alouette River Management Society, and B.C. Corrections.

The annual nutrient restoration/fertilization program takes place on the lake for about six months from April to September each year.

After operating for 30 years, some of the infrastructure has aged out, and has not been disposed of properly, Okunev noted.

There is a derelict dock with tires stuffed with Styrofoam underneath it up on the shore, cracked floating barrels with more exposed Styrofoam floating around, and metres of discarded rope to be seen on his last trip in June.

“I would be happy to clean, but I can’t haul all that stuff around on my paddle board,” Okunev said.

“The facility has a power boat, so for them it would be easier to just go around the perimeter (of the lake) and pick up all the trash.”

He worries the project sets a bad example for people who use the lake for recreation, saying when people see the refuse, they do not feel as bad about discarding their own trash wherever they please.

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s Shannon Harris says the project headquarters might appear to be in worse shape that it actually is. The limnology (study of inland waters) specialist acknowledged some of the equipment is probably looking “pretty rough.”

But she says much of the infrastructure still serves a purpose. The boom structure made up of floating logs is in place to keep the project’s boat safe from high wave action.

“Our assets might not look the prettiest, but we definitely want to ensure we keep that vessel safely moored,” she said.

The boat is used to transport agricultural grade fertilizer around the lake. Harris described some of the project’s successes since upping the nutrient count.

“Before this project started there was about 30,000 kokanee (salmon) in the reservoir, she said, “And after the application of nutrients and stimulation of the food web, we now have between two and three hundred thousand kokanee.

“A benefit of this program, which takes it one step further, is the kokanee smolts that are in the reservoir, those are the fish that go over the spillway and go into the north east Pacific, and come back as sockeye (salmon),” Harris added.

“In 2007, we had the first returns of sockeye to the reservoir in 80 years, and if it wasn’t for the healthy kokanee population in the reservoir, there would not be any smolts to go out to sea, and there would be no returning sockeye.”


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maple ridgePollution and Air Quality

 

Detritus from the Bell Corr project has made its way to different areas of Alouette Lake’s shore. (Special to The News)

Detritus from the Bell Corr project has made its way to different areas of Alouette Lake’s shore. (Special to The News)

A wrecked dock with styrofoam supports, formerly used by the Bell Corr Project, sits derelict on the shores of Alouette Lake. (Special to The News)

Victor Okunev takes a paddle board out on Alouette Lake every autumn to clear camp sites of trash. He would like to see the Bell Corr Project use its boat to clean up some of the decaying infrastructure on the shores.

Victor Okunev takes a paddle board out on Alouette Lake every autumn to clear camp sites of trash. He would like to see the Bell Corr Project use its boat to clean up some of the decaying infrastructure on the shores.