SUBMITTED BY BERNICE EDWARDS
Did you know that many Alberta Lakes have stewardship groups that are formed by individuals interested in protection and/or restoring the quality of their local lake? These groups meet a number of times a year to plan activities to educate the public and to generate support for their lake’s protection.
One such a group is “The Friends of the Chain Lakes Society”. The Chain Lakes are three connected lakes by the “Parlby Creek” that flows its way eastward into the Large Buffalo Lake. The headwaters/wetlands of these lakes begin on the south side of Highway 53, three miles east of Ponoka, and extend in a southeasterly direction for at least eight miles/13 kms. The first two lakes are in the Ponoka County and with a small portion of the second Lake and the third lake in the Lacombe County. The entire region consisting of wetlands headwater, lakes and surrounding watershed area covers a little over 30 sq. miles /48 sq. kms.
The lakes today have at least 30 private residences living within the designated, protected watershed area. Two more properties are owned by the fish and game associations, one being the Ponoka group, on the first lake, the other being the Lacombe group on the second lake.
This Chain Lakes waterway is an important habitat for many kinds of birds, fish and a variety of wild life.
The more recent increase of intensive livestock farming expanding much closer to these lakes has meant greater volumes of manure spreading on land dangerously closer to the lakes’ watershed, has caused a much higher volume of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, to enter the lakes during spring run-off and heavy rain storms. Such elevated nutrient concentration in the lakes causes undesirable increases in algae blooms on the lakes surface,
in low dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, as well as degraded habitat for fish.
In a 1974 Chain Lakes study, the following was stated: “The lakes are beautifully clear….and 18 inch Jackfish (Northern Pike) are routinely caught…the Chain Lakes are in fact the only good fishing lakes for many miles around, far better than Red Deer, Gull, Samson or Buffalo Lakes. This is a resource of regional importance and should be protected accordingly.”
Sadly, this is very far from the truth today.
The mandate of the Friends of Chain Lakes Society is to seek ways to safe guard and restore these lakes and its surrounding environment. Public awareness and concern for our Alberta lakes and environment is paramount to the future of a healthy, improved environment.
For a number of years, this society has been holding annual public information meetings with guest speakers who are highly recognized and professional environmentalist individuals. This year’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday, June 12 at 7 p.m. in the Scott School Hall, located 4.5 miles south of Highway 53 (three miles east of Ponoka) on Scott Road. The guest speaker will be Jason Cooper, a senior fisheries biologist for the Government of Alberta and The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. He also works within the Red Deer River to North Saskatchewan River Region. He has been based in Red Deer for the past seven years and is responsible for managing fishery resources within the majority of the central region of this province. He interacts with many levels of government and other organizations concerning fish population, habitat and various levels of planning and development activities. He will discuss issues that concern us locally and how his staff can provide an up-to-date fisheries assessment.
Alberta’s lakes belong to all Albertans. If you enjoy the many attributes and pleasures our lakes offer us, you need to set aside this time and come join others with a similar love of lakes and our environment
For more information phone 403-783-6233 or 403-784-3511.