First Nation Groups Express Support for Measures to Protect Health of Clear Lake

by ahnationtalk on May 15, 202437 Views

May 14, 2024

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is sharing statements from the Coalition of First Nations with Interests in Riding Mountain National Park (the Coalition) and Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation (KOFN) on the topic of Clear Lake.

Statement of the Coalition of First Nations with Interests in Riding Mountain National Park
Regarding Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park – May 8, 2024

The Coalition of First Nations with Interests in Riding Mountain National Park (the Coalition) represents the seven First Nations that have inherent rights including historical, cultural and traditional interests in the land that became Riding Mountain National Park. The Coalition includes Keeseekoowenin, Waywayseecappo, Gamblers, Rolling River, Sandy Bay, Ebb & Flow, and Tootinaowaziibeeng. The Coalition First Nations are parties to the Riding Mountain Forum, established in 2006, a multilateral forum between the seven Coalition First Nations and Riding Mountain National Park.

The Coalition agrees that maintaining the ecological integrity of Clear Lake is of the highest priority. We want to ensure that Clear Lake remains protected, safeguarding the aquatic and biological health of the lake for all future generations. The Coalition recognizes that Clear Lake must remain healthy to sustain traditional use, including a Sec 35 fishery, and to maintain it as a prime tourist destination for the people of Manitoba.

Recognizing that if zebra mussels gain a foothold in Clear Lake, it’s mitigation, remediation and eradication efforts will be very costly and may not be successful. Furthermore, a full-blown infestation of zebra mussels in Clear Lake, if this happens, is irreversible and permanent. It will have significant impacts on a traditional use fishery, and will also have a devastating impact on the National Park and Wasagaming as a tourist destination, with Wasagaming businesses and other stakeholders being profoundly affected. Furthermore, communities downstream from Clear Lake, along the Little Saskatchewan River and beyond, will be impacted and may have to contend with costly maintenance of infrastructure.

Keeping zebra mussels out of Clear Lake is our main concern. With the above considerations in mind, the Coalition supports the efforts to have a proactive management plan working with Coalition communities. We urge Parks Canada to continue with sampling, monitoring, decontamination stations, public education activities.

Nevertheless, if zebra mussels have already established themselves in the lake, containing the infestation and preventing their spread throughout the whole lake will require further discussion and consultation with Coalition communities on the best course of action. This summer, if Parks implements a closure of the lake to pleasure watercraft, this decision will undoubtably bring resistance from many Stakeholders. We remind them that Clear Lake is the main draw for visitors to Riding Mountain because it is clean and healthy. A full-blown zebra mussel infestation will impact everyone, not just boaters.

Lastly, we urge Parks Canada, the visitors to Clear Lake, and the general public to be vigilant about deliberate actions of eco-vandalism by disgruntled parties. Small Mouth Bass, a non-native species was introduced in the Clear Lake a few years ago, and its mitigation has been costly. Deliberate infestation of the lake with zebra mussels is a real possibility. Absolutely no one benefits, and future generations are denied what we enjoy today, a clean and healthy Clear Lake. Please join with us in keeping Clear Lake healthy.

Questions or Inquiries

J Plewak, Senior Official
Coalition of First Nations with Interests in RMNP
jplewak@yahoo.ca 204 781-4300

NT4

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