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General News · 2nd April 2015
Friends of Cortes Island Leah
Please join us Wednesday, April 15th
6:30 – 8:30pm, Manson’s Hall

FOCI’s Lake Stewardship initiative was developed in response to the algal blooms that took place in spring of 2014. We created this project in order to gain a better understanding of the lake ecosystem, and to identify how our community can become effective stewards of the Hague and Gunflint Lake watersheds.

Please join us at the upcoming meeting, which will feature a report on the data and research from FOCI’s water quality monitoring program (August 2014 – March 2015). We will also be inviting community input on the development of a long-term lake stewardship plan for the lakes.

We are pleased to have a special guest speaker joining us for this meeting. Rosie Barlak is an Environmental Impact Assessment Biologist with the Ministry of Environment (MOE), and will be available to answer specific questions relating to lake ecology and algae blooms. Rosie has been our key ally at MOE and has consulted with us on the design and implementation of our monitoring program. We are very grateful for her expertise and are fortunate to have her support with interpreting the data that has been collected.

We invite you to join us for this interactive and informative meeting!

Wednesday, April 15th
6:30 – 8:30pm
Manson’s Hall

This meeting will include:
~ an intro to lake ecology & algae blooms with Rosie Barlak

~ a presentation on the data & results from FOCI’s water quality monitoring program (August 2014 – March 2015)

~ invitation for community input on the development of a long-term stewardship program for Hague & Gunflint Lakes

~ question & answer period

Please arrive early as the meeting will start promptly at 6:30pm.

Contact Leah with any questions:
FOCI office: 935-0087

Below you will find a summary of FOCI’s Lake Stewardship work to date, and a project timeline. Please enjoy this thorough review of our achievements over the past year.


Developed in spring of 2014, FOCI’s Lake Stewardship program aims to support the Cortes community in becoming effective stewards of the Hague and Gunflint Lake watersheds.
With support from Rosie Barlak (Environmental Impact Assessment Biologist, MOE) and Kristi Carter (BC Lake Stewardship Society), we have implemented what we hope will become a long-term monitoring program for the lakes. Ongoing water sampling will allow us to establish baseline data and to track changes over time. This monitoring program includes the collection of bi-weekly samples that measure temperature, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen in the lakes.

In the summer and fall of 2014, we also collected coliform samples to assess the presence of fecal contamination in the water. In accordance with Ministry standards, these samples were taken at 14 perimeter sites once per week for a 5-week period during key seasonal intervals.

The sample sites were selected based on the 2003 Water Quality Study & Potability Analysis that was conducted by Graeme Faris, Russ Hotsenpiller, Pierre de Trey, Walter Grundman, Andy Ellingsen and Fred Zwickel.

In August 2014, Dr. Eric Demers and Reanna Shelling visited Cortes. This professor and student team from Vancouver Island University performed a series of tests that require more equipment and expertise than what is locally available. We are fortunate to have their support in carrying out this additional lake profile testing. Reanna has also produced a report that analyzes all of the sampling to date. This report will be presented at the upcoming Lake Stewardship meeting on April 15th.

In the summer of 2014, we also produced the Hague-Gunflint Community Watershed Map. This map illustrates the Hague & Gunflint watersheds and indicates which properties drain into the lakes. Thank you to David Shipway who produced this map with base maps provided by Doug Sauer (SRD).

In October, FOCI hosted a Lakekeepers Training, presented by the a BC Lake Stewardship Society at the Linnaea Education Centre. Over 20 community members attended and gained valuable skills in watershed assessment and sample collection. This training was very important, as the success of this monitoring work depends entirely on the dedication and involvement of the community. We would like to acknowledge the support of the following volunteers who are making this lake stewardship work possible. THANK YOU TO: Miranda Cross, Carrie Saxifrage, Mary Lavelle, Rex Weyler, Soasis Sukuweh, Andrew Smyth, Jurek & Gina Trzesicki, and Alma Huuskonen. We would also like to thank the Cortes Connection for facilitating the delivery of lake water samples. We genuinely appreciate your ongoing support!

Through the fall and early winter, we have also been carrying out a myco-remediation project. This project aims to develop a low-tech, low-cost method that homeowners can use to reduce the effluent that may be flowing from their properties into the lakes. The project involves installing myco-filtration berms (or “bio-swales”) below effluent sources like animal pastures or septic systems. These berms are created by filling a trench with alder/fir wood chips and inoculated substrate. Then the mycelium uptakes the nitrates, phosphates, and e. coli before it reaches the water. According to research by Paul Stamets, this model has proven to be extremely effective at reducing the impact of run-off reaching waterways. We received a generous donation of Garden Giant mycelium from Stamets and have installed a demonstration site at Linnaea Farm. We will continue to evaluate and measure the efficacy of this project and are hoping to develop a toolkit, which would make this bio-swale method available to landowners.

As we move forward into the second year of the Lake Stewardship program, we hope to continue engaging the community in solutions-based research that empowers people to become active stewards of these freshwater ecosystems.
Thank you for your ongoing support and we look forward to seeing you at the upcoming meeting!

(May 2014 – March 2015)

* informal meetings with community members who were concerned about the significant algae blooms that took place in Hague & Gunflint lakes in April 2014
* began researching algal blooms and potential resources available to community groups who are interesting in doing water quality monitoring
* began consulting with Rosie Barlak (Environmental Impact Assessment Biologist, Ministry of Environment)
* produced a newsletter to inform and update the community on the algal blooms
* received $10,000 grant from Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation towards water quality monitoring and lab analysis costs

* based on recommendations from Rosie Barlak, developed a ‘5 in 30’ e.coli monitoring program for Hague and Gunflint Lakes
* contracted David Shipway to design and produce a Hague-Gunflint watershed map
* published a summer newsletter and lake stewardship update
* Lake Stewardship table at Cortes Day

* Weeks 1-3 of summer e. coli sampling
* Summer Low Flow – lake profile sampling carried out by Vancouver Island University (VIU) Professor and limnologist, Dr. Eric Demers and graduate student, Reanna Shelling (Aug. 18)
* 9 Lake Swim fundraiser! (August 24th)
* raised $13,000 towards the Lake Stewardship fund

* Weeks 4-5 of e. Coli sampling

* Lakekeepers Training at Linnaea Farm facilitated by the BC Lake Stewardship Society (Oct. 4-5)
* Week 1 of fall e. coli sampling
* Formed a Lake Stewardship Volunteer Group (10 active members)
* Started Bi-weekly Monitoring Program, measuring water temperature, turbidity (water clarity), and dissolved oxygen at one deep water site per lake
* Myco-Remediation Project – planning phase

* Weeks 2-5 of fall e.coli sampling
* Bi-weekly monitoring
* Published fall newsletter and lake stewardship update
* Myco-Remediation project – materials prep & spawn inoculation

December - February
* Bi-weekly monitoring and ongoing research

* Spring Overturn – lake profile sampling carried out by VIU Professor and Limnologist, Dr. Eric Demers, and graduate student Reanna Shelling (Mar. 8)
* Myco-Remediation Project – site installation at Linnaea Farm
* Organizing community meetings to:
* release a report on the data collected to date
* give a general project update
* begin to develop a watershed stewardship plan