A popular recreation spot for the last century, the contents of Hartley Lake have drained following a dam burst, which caused damage to fields and forest service roads nearby.
Conservation Officer Frank De Boon went to assess the lake on Friday, July 10.
“It appears that the dam has let go at the bottom of the dam. It’s kind of like somebody pulled the plug on the bathroom sink,” he said.
The manmade timber crib dam at the end of the lake had finally rotted through, releasing the lake’s waters into nearby areas.
“Nobody opened up the dam, it was just a natural failure over time,” De Boon explained.
The buildup of logs floating in the lake’s waters was a result of the previously established White Spruce Saw Mills diverting their cut trees through Olivia Creek and into Hartley, utilizing the waters as a holding pond 100 years ago.
Fly Shop Owner and Elk River Guiding Company outfitter, Paul Samycia noted the effect of the dam bust on other local waters.
“The Elk River was dirty for a few days because of all the mud,” Samycia said.
Fernie resident Patsy Caravetta recalled memories of visiting the lake during his childhood.
“I’ve been up to Hartley Lake thousands of times. It was a nice place to go fish. You could bring your family, your boat or your raft and stay there,” he reminisced.
In the early 90s, the Fernie Rod and Gun Club worked to restore the lake and its fish population.
The lake also used to serve as a campsite, particularly for off-roaders making use of the extensive network of gravel roads that span behind the Three Sisters range.
Hartley Lake was located at the base of Mount Hosmer, approximately 17 kilometres north of Fernie.