Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewardship Strategy (CLASS)
For all who live and play in the Fraser Valley, Cultus Lake is a jewel, drawing over three million visits each year. But the lake is also suffering the ill effects of its popularity, and concerned residents are looking for a strategy to keep the lake healthy.
In 2007 some of those people came together to build a multi-interest Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewardship Strategy (CLASS). They wanted to look further into the state of fish and wildlife, water temperature, water quality, nutrient loading and aquatic invasive species ― particularly Eurasian watermilfoil and other milfoil species.
The CLASS Partnership
CLASS is a network of over 60 organizations and individuals, all interested in the future of Cultus Lake. FBC’s Fraser Valley Regional Manager chairs CLASS meetings and supports the participants as they come together to identify key issues, gather information, and support research on the lake. Participants include the Cultus Lake Community Association, BC Parks, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Cultus Lake Park Board, Soowahlie First Nation, Chihlkwayuhk Tribal Society, Sto:lo Tribal Council, Fraser Valley Regional District, Fraser River Salmon Table Society, Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition, Sport Fishing Advisory Board, and participants from business, industry, education and other sectors.
Cultus: A Lake Under Pressure
The science shows that Cultus Lake is moving towards eutrophication. The lake suffers from nutrient loading, which has led to an increase in algae and reduction of oxygen in some conditions. The nutrient problem comes from different human sources, including septic systems that serve residents and visitors, lawn/golf course fertilization and agricultural activity. There are serious consequences for lake water quality and ecosystem health.
People rely on having a healthy lake at Cultus for sport and recreation.
The lake is also key to survival of unique fish stocks:
“The Scoop on Poop”: Nutrient Management
CLASS is a partner in a program to monitor nutrients and identify sources, with DFO’s Science Branch. A two-year study looked at the stresses pollution places on habitat quality for salmon and other fish species, including the role of atmospheric deposits. The underlying goal is to help authorities on nutrient abatement and to protect endangered Sockeye rearing habitat.
Results of the study will be published in mid-2014.
The work of CLASS began in 2007. Since then the partnership has taken many steps, including:
CLASS meets on the last Wednesday of each month (except August and December) and welcomes interested members of the community. For more information, contact , Manager, Special Projects.
In light of waning public interest and funding for environmental monitoring and research on Cultus Lake, the initiatives proposed by CLASS and the FBC are crucial to ensure that the threats to species at risk remain on the radar and are ultimately addressed. I have great faith that the ongoing science and community stewardship partnerships we foster within the Cultus watershed will ultimately result in mitigation of the human activities that impact the system, define future sustainable use of the Cultus Lake, and protect species at risk.