Aquatic species 'musselling' in on Three Mile Beach

Three Mile Beach is coming back before Penticton city council April 20 as the province seeks a stewardship agreement with the city to protect the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel's habitat in the waters off the beach.

PENTICTON - Three Mile Beach is back on city councillor's minds, but not because of clothing optional issues. The beach also happens to be home to an aquatic species in need of help.

Not to be confused with invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which governments are trying to keep out of the lake, the province will be asking the City of Penticton to help keep a completely different mussel species alive in Okanagan Lake at tonight’s council meeting.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is asking the councillors to endorse a stewardship agreement in order to protect the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel’s habitat in the Three Mile Beach area.

The species is listed as being of “special concern” under the Species at Risk Act, and is present all along the Three Mile Beach shoreline. Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussels can grow up to 12.5 centimetres long, with a habitat that ranges from soft muddy or sandy lake bottoms to large cobble strewn bottoms along lake shores and within the Okanagan River.

The province is proposing a five-year agreement with the city to protect the species by refraining from dredging, rototilling, infilling or hardening of the shoreline. The city would refrain from constructing new structures in the water and no extra sand would be introduced to the beach.

Ministry of Environment Senior Ecosystems Biologist Lora Nield will address council April 20 to help explain the need for protection as well as the difference between the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel and invasive species such as the zebra and quagga mussel.

Staff is recommending council endorse the stewardship agreement, noting there is no financial impact to the city. The city’s current maintenance and management practices will also remain unaffected.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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