Report addresses recreation issues at Koocanusa

A report has been written which aims to reduce the tourism impact on the land at Koocanusa Lake.

Lake Koocanusa is a hot spot destination for tourists and locals alike, but after continuously being faced with environmental issues, including the degradation of sensitive grassland and wildlife habitat and excessive litter and garbage in the backcountry, a report aimed to reduce the tourism impact on the land has been initiated.

The Koocanusa Recreation Steering Committee (KRSC) was set up in 2014 by MLA for Kootenay East Bill Bennett and Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson in order to address the issues that have arisen around the Koocanusa Reservoir.

Among the group representatives are members from the B.C. government, the Ktunaxa National Council, the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).

“Constituents in this area have identified long-standing issues,” Bennett said. “That’s why I brought this group of agencies together to explore how we can effectively maintain important tourism and recreation opportunities in the area while reducing some of the negative impacts.”

KRSC commissioned the Koocanusa Area Situation Analysis report focused on maintaining the economic values, ecological integrity and aesthetic appeal of the Crown land for current and future users.

“By partnering and commissioning this report, we can now help identify actions to ensure the lands around the reservoir are appropriately maintained for all,” CBT president and CEO Neil Muth said.

KRSC’s priority is to educate recreational users about appropriate behaviour, which would entail creating a recreation code of conduct, a brochure and website for the Koocanusa area, as well as signage at popular recreation sites. In addition, the group also plans to enhance waste management facilities.

These recommendations will be implemented in the upcoming months.

For more information and to read the report, visit koocanusarecreation.ca