Nutrient levels in Cultus to be studied

Environmental stewards are about to get the scoop on poop in Cultus Lake.

Environmental stewards are about to get the scoop on poop in Cultus Lake.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Fraser Basin Council are earmarking $44,000 from the joint Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program (FSWP) to monitor nutrient levels  — like phosphorus and nitrogen — in Cultus Lake.

Led by DFO scientists and the Fraser Basin Council, the nutrient monitoring project stems from the Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewardship Strategy (CLASS) that seeks to balance the ecological and recreational significance of Cultus Lake, said Marion Robinson, president of CLASS.

With millions of visitors to the area every year, it’s putting pressure on the resource.

“We have identified nutrient loading as both a serious ecological issue and a significant social concern for users of the watershed, as population densities and development continue to increase,” she said.

As a first step, the monitoring project will draw on volunteers and scientific experts to establish a comprehensive databank of nutrients in Cultus Lake.

“Once that two-year project is completed, the data generated will be useful in land use and nutrient management plans for the Cultus Lake watershed,” said Robinson.

Cultus Lake is the only freshwater nursery habitat for a genetically distinct, low-abundance population of sockeye salmon, listed as endangered in 2002 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Cultus is also home to the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin, listed as threatened under the Species-At-Risk-Act (SARA) and faces similar freshwater stressors.