Work has begun on a much-needed facelift for the 20-year-old restoration project at Cheam Lake in Popkum thanks to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC).
The lake, which is the centrepiece of the Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park, was drained 60 years ago for the mining of marl, a substance used in agriculture.
In 1992, restoration of the lake began with construction of a water control structure and fish ladder. DUC says while that main structure is still in good condition, the culvert is beginning to fail and the fish ladder needs upgrades.
"Cheam Lake is the type of restoration we get the most satisfaction from," said Brad Arner, manager of provincial operations for DUC in B.C., in a press release. "Taking a site that had been significantly altered by previous use, then going in, restoring the hydrology and watching the return of habitat and then the fish and wildlife."
Funding for the $350,000 project is shared between Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, DUC, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
"The Government of Canada is pleased to support projects like the Cheam Lake infrastructure upgrades through our Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program," said Mark Strahl, Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. "Our contribution of $144,000 will help ensure this special place is maintained as a valuable ecological reserve for future generations."
Dan Buffet, head of conservation for DUC for the B.C. coast, said work started last week and will continue next week, depending on weather.
Cheam Lake was known as a duck-and goose-breeding site that supported coho and cutthroat trout before it was drained. DUC says coho have returned to the lake and many amphibians are supported, such as the red legged frog, and northwestern and long toed salamanders. A wide variety of migrating and wintering waterfowl also use the lake, including common and hooded mergansers, buffleheads, scaup, ring necked ducks, mallards and northern pintails. The lake is also regularly used as a roosting site by wintering trumpeter swans.
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