The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society is seeking volunteers for a new citizen science initiative to help stop the spread of zebra and quagga mussels and Asian clams in local lakes.
They are calling for private homeowners with docks on Kalamalka, Wood, Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseux and Osoyoos lakes to attach mussel monitors to their docks and check them every two weeks.
“Our society has been checking for invasive mussels for eight years, however, this initiative will greatly expand our efforts to regions of the lakes that were previously inaccessible,” said Lisa Scott, executive director of OASISS.
Property owners can also sign up for shoreline surveys looking for Asian clams along Osoyoos Lake.
"Asian clams are already established on the Washington side of Osoyoos Lake,” Scott said. “The shoreline surveys will allow us to monitor and protect this high risk lake from further infestations on the Canadian side.”
Currently, invasive mussels and clams have not been found in the Okanagan Valley, and that's how the society would like to keep it.
In regions where they are already established, they damage sensitive ecosystems, clog intake pipes and water infrastructure, affect water quality, impact tourism and the local economy.
“We are extremely concerned about the possibility of invasive mussels or Asian clams arriving here,” Scott said. “It’s imperative as a community to do everything in our power to protect our lakes from an invasion.”
The current project is being funded in part by the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is being run in conjunction with their Don’t Move A Mussel initiative. The society has also received a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to support the monitoring of Okanagan lakes for invasive mussels through both water sampling and monitoring stations.
To register for the project, contact [email protected] or call Sierra at 250-718-7901.