The Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) Love the Lakes program continues long-term lake monitoring, has produced a great new video, initiated a wetlands restoration project, and will offer a lake paddle as part of its summer activities, outlined below.
In April, lake residents experienced what has become a regular spring algal bloom in both lakes. I recorded the bloom as visible on April 8. Our lakes, and most lakes, experience blooms from various organisms - diatoms, algae, bacteria, and dinoflagelates - in an annual cycle as nutrient abundance and water temperature become ideal.
The spring blooms in Hague and Gunflint tend to be the largest, as they can be feed from winter nutrient flow, septic fields, nitrogen and phosphorus from natural decay, manures, fertilizers and other garden amendments. These nutrients can wash into the lake with rain and groundwater, and as the lakes warm each spring, we experience the algae blooms.
Christian Gronau took water samples and helped us with preliminary identification of the organisms. This year's spring bloom began to decline by mid-May, and had receded significantly by the end of May as the store of nutrients became exhausted.
Five years ago, in the spring of 2014, we experienced the largest recent bloom, and FOCI soon launchned its Love the Lakes project, to keep an eye on these blooms and help reduce the nutrient flow from our community. Several lake residents have upgraded their septic fields and livestock pastures, we've planted some shoreline with cattails, which help take up nutrients, and Linnaea Farm has now embarked on an ambitious restoration effort. Love the Lakes Video:
FOCI's new video explains what is occurring in our lakes and how you can help keep the lakes healthy. Watch the video here.Linnaea / FOCI Wetland Restoration Project
During the winter months, with funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), FOCI and the Linnaea community researched bioremediation measures to help reduce algae blooms in the lakes. Bioremediation uses natural vegetation to absorb nutrients that feed these blooms.
We learned that the most useful actions would be stream and wetland restoration. The stream that traverses the farm drains a much larger watershed, picking up nutrients all along its course. Wetland specialist Tom Biebighauser visited Linnaea and helped the Farm Stewards design a plan with FOCI board-members.
Wetlands are increasingly being used across North America to help remove nutrients before they enter lakes. The slow flows and shallow water allow sediments to settle, providing optimum plant contact that helps remove nutrients. Furthermore, healthy wetlands provide wildlife habitat and fabulous educational opportunities.
FOCI and Linnaea intend to start the physical project in the fall of 2020 with further assistance from HCTF. We will keep you posted as this exciting project develops!
Please consider donating to our Love the Lakes fund, to support our important work and to keep our precious lakes healthy. Donate here
Join the Love the Lakes paddle on Saturday, August 31, 8 - 11:30. To book your spot, contact FOCI: 250-935-0087 or email: friendsofcortesgmail.com.
Thank you to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the Campbell River Community Foundation for helping fund our work this year.
Rex Weyler, for FOCI.