The BC government is increasing its funding to fight the invasive mussel threat in the province.
Premier Clark and other Okanagan MLA’s have announced an extra three million dollars in measures to keep the destructive species out of waterways.
The funding will add two new inspection stations, in Yahk and Midway, putting the number of stations at 10.
Inspection hours and the inspection operating season will also be expanded with 35 more inspection officers.
There will also be more money for public education, scientific lake monitoring and for Canada’s first multi-purpose mussel-sniffing dog.
Vernon Monashee MLA Eric Foster was at the announcement in West Kelowna and got to see a demonstration of the dog doing his job.
“The dog’s name is Kilo. He’s a 16 month old German Shepherd, and he’s trained to run around a boat and trailer. And, however they train those dogs to sniff-out drugs, bombs and any other type of contraband, they’ve trained him to sniff out mussels. He’s also trained to sniff-out bombs,” Foster tells Kiss FM.
“The boats that come from Alberta, that come to this part of the country, the majority come through Golden, so I think that one will make a big difference.”
Foster says the possible spread of the zebra and quagga mussels is a huge threat to the Okanagan.
“In any of the lakes, Okanagan or Kalamalka, it can just destroy your lakes in no time at all,” adds Foster.
The remaining nine stations will have their hours extended generally from dawn to dusk however actual opening and closing times will vary to help ensure compliance.
The inspection operating season will now run from mid-March until mid-November.
To support the new stations and extended hours, the Province is also adding 35 inspection officers to the program, bringing the total to 68 auxiliary conservation officers.
“Invasive mussels have spread to provinces and states throughout North America – but not yet in B.C., and we’re focused on keeping it that way,” says Premier Christy Clark. “That’s why we’re adding more inspection stations, extended hours and staff, and Canada’s first multi-purpose mussel-sniffing dog – to protect our most precious resource, our waterways.”
Funding for the ongoing mussel defence program announced today is valued at approximately $3 million. It includes:
* $2.45 million, primarily for the increased staffing.
* $450,000 over three years to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for the lake monitoring program; and
* $170,000 for equipment for the enhanced program.
This brings the total program funding to $4.5 million annually, with partner funding from BC Hydro, Columbia Power, Fortis BC, and Columbia Basin Trust.
“A lot of the items that have been on our wish list are being announced today,” said Okanagan Basin Water board chair Tracy Gray. “We look forward to continuing to work with the province, as well as the federal government and other partners, to build a program that will keep our waters invasive mussel-free.