Riding Mountain National Park is implementing the new restrictions on all watercraft entering the park, due to the findings of zebra mussels in Clear Lake.

Temporary watercraft management measures are in place for Clear Lake while monitoring for zebra mussels.  Mandatory Parks Canada Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspections are required for all watercraft and water-related equipment entering outlying park waters.  It's important to note Provincial AIS inspections are not valid in Riding Mountain National Park.

In addition, Parks Canada AIS inspections include, but are not limited to, engine powered and human-powered watercraft (including kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, etc), PFD's and life jackets and life-vests, and inflatable toys, water-wings and islands.

Non-motorized/human-powered watercraft are permitted to enter park waters other than Clear Lake, after receiving a Parks Canada AIS inspection permit at the Boat Cove in Wasagaming, and a decontamination if necessary. 

"I think what's really important for people to know before they head up to Riding Mountain National Park is that things are going to look a little different here, especially at Clear Lake this year," explains External Relations Manager for RMNP Dameon Wall.

"So, as a result of the discovery of eDNA evidence from Boat Cove throughout the summer last year, and then combined with the discovery of living zebra mussels in November at the same location, that has resulted in some temporary changes to the way things are going to work here.  Basically, what it comes down to is there will be no use of a personal watercraft allowed on Clear Lake this year.  Visitors will still have the experience to go swimming or fishing from the shores or from docks."

Wall says visitors who wish to enjoy a cruise on the lake can do so on the commercial tour boat, the Martise.  He adds the Martise, and one other boat will be allowed on Clear Lake while participating in the scientific monitoring and research program being implemented on the lake.

"All of this is intended to give science the best chance to try and identify an established colony of zebra mussels on the lake so that we could take steps to potentially eradicate that colony before they're widely established," he adds. "Because once they're widely established in Clear Lake, they will have long-lasting if not permanent affects not only in Clear Lake, but also downstream through the Little Saskatchewan River and Assiniboine River all the way to the Forks. So, this is pretty significant."

Wall says these steps are to help protect Clear Lake, as well as the other lakes within Riding Mountain National Park, but also to provide levels of protection to all waterbodies outside of the Park.

"It's important for people to remember that these are temporary measures, and what's at stake here is not only a summer's worth of activity or recreation on Clear Lake, but a lot of significant potential impacts both inside the Park and downstream," adds Wall. "I would just again encourage everybody that they're checking things out before they get up here, know what they're coming too, and be prepared to have a great experience in the Park without your canoe or kayak or motor boat on Clear Lake."

Please listen to more with Dameon Wall to learn more about zebra mussels in Clear Lake below.

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