City of Vernon building case for return of milfoil rototilling, despite 'endangered' mussels

Mussels really endangered?

The City of Vernon is building a case against Rocky Mountain Ridge mussels.

Council passed a motion Monday to have staff investigate the murky science behind the protection of the mussel species, which was labelled as endangered in 2010.

Saving the lives of Rocky Mountain Ridge mussels is preventing the use of rototilling at Kin Beach for the invasive Eurasian milfoil, which hinders swimming, fishing and boating.

“In 2015, a very substantial amount of work was done that really calls into question them being endangered. Since then, there has been some significant research that makes it even more so, indicating that this has been called into question,” said Mayor Victor Cumming, who put forward the motion.

The mussels seem to be flourishing in the North Okanagan.

New research in multiple beach areas of Okanagan Lake has identified hundreds of mussels in multiple patches previously not inventoried, including the proposed dog beach areas adjacent to Kin Beach and in areas rototilled for decades.

Coun. Brian Quiring asked whether administration should undertake the study or whether it would be better done by an outside expert.

Cumming said he was open to that idea.

Staff can bring back a recommendation to council for a consultant, as well as any funding request.

Milfoil management across the valley is undertaken by the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

Rototilling has proven to be the most effective management tool to deal with lake-bottom milfoil mats and plant growth in the summer season, says the motion.

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