In late 2019, Living Lakes Canada entered into a four-year Contribution Agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and their Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk Program to complete a four-year “Foreshore Integrated Management Planning (FIMP) for Aquatic Species at Risk Project” in the Columbia Basin.
The overarching goal of this project is to improve the quality and quantity of information about lake foreshore habitat integrity and species at risk in the Upper Columbia Basin. In this way informed decisions can be made regarding lake foreshore use without exacerbating climate change impacts on the lake’s health.
What is FIMP?
Foreshore Integrated Management Planning (FIMP) is a suite of biological methods (i.e., a framework) used to delineate, inventory, and understand the ecological values present along the foreshore of any lake. Since FIMP focuses on fish and wildlife values, both aquatic and terrestrial habitats are surveyed (usually from a boat).
Want to know more? Check out this video introduction to FIMP.
Prior to this LLC-directed project, FIMP surveys have been completed on 13 lakes in the Upper Columbia Basin since 2006 (Table 1).
The first year of the project (2019-20) entailed reviewing and revising this original FIMP methodology before additional surveys were planned. The goal is to map (or re-map) 6-8 priority lakes in the Basin to create a baseline from which to assess the rate of change in ecological and urban development parameters.
Information collected over the coming years will be shared with government, First Nations, consultants, developers, and other stakeholders to support evidence-based, land-use decision making.
What lakes have been FIMP’d?
Overall, four lakes were surveyed in Year 2 (2020-21) of the project, including:
- Windermere Lake (by Ecoscape Environmental Consulting Ltd., with additional financial support from Lake Windermere Ambassadors [LWA]);
- Moyie Lake (by Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions);
- Whiteswan Lake (by Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions);
- Whitetail Lake (by Masse Environmental Consultants Ltd.).
Two of these lakes were re-assessments: Windermere Lake and Moyie Lake.
Cumulatively, 17 different lakes have been surveyed using the FIMP framework (Table 1).
HOW IS FIMP DATA SHARED?
Survey results traditionally fed into two different reports, each with a different purpose. The Foreshore Inventory and Mapping (FIM) Report is where the raw data are summarized. The FIM report contains tables, figures, and summary statistics for the different variables surveyed (e.g., per cent of the shoreline that is considered natural or disturbed, substrate composition, the location of stream mouths and wetlands, as well as the number of docks, boat houses, and retaining walls).
The FIM data is used to complete the technical data analysis—called the Foreshore Sensitivity Habitat Index (FHSI)—and shape the recommendations presented in the Foreshore Development Guideline (FGD) Report.
The objective of the FGD report is to describe the technical analysis and provide recommendations that promote sustainable, evidence-based, land-use decision making while conserving high-value fish and wildlife habitats. Final reports create a fairly comprehensive baseline from which to assess potential changes over time.
Note: The three FIMP components—FIM, FHSI, and FDG—will now be packaged into a single report to reduce the number of reports produced for each lake (however the FDG report might still be produced as a separate, but identical report since it provides a succinct standalone summary).
Where do I find the FIMP reports?
LLC is directing a new project that will see all the FIMP reports (and select data) hosted on the Columbia Basin Water Hub (“the Water Hub”) for easy viewing and downloading (see the Data Management Strategy Section below for more details). The existing FIMP data viewing portal hosted by the Community Mapping Network (CMN) also received an upgrade and will soon boast interactive mapping capabilities for all lakes surveyed.
The vision is for LLC to be the Data Owners and Managers, with additional viewing portals established in the future. For example, LLC aims to collaborate with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) to develop another viewing portal, which in turn will help augment the use of the FIMP data (especially by RDCK staff).
When the reports are finalized, they will also be published on the FIMP Project Page and in the Resource Library on the LLC website, and the designated viewing platforms.
Who Uses FIMP Reports?
In the past, FIMP Reports have been used by all levels of governments (e.g., municipal, provincial, and federal), First Nations, property owners, developers, and environmental consultants during assessment and permitting, referrals, strategic land-use planning, and designation of conservation or ecologically sensitive areas.
Learn how the Provincial government uses the FDG Reports in this guided video tutorial.
FIMP Incorporates First Nations Ecological Knowledge
In Year 1 of the FIMP Project (2019 – 20), several workshops were hosted to explore, among other topics, how best to include First Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge (FN TEK) into the FIMP framework. Year 2020-21 marks the first time the new guidelines for including FN TEK into FIMP, were used.
Learn more about FN TEK in this video explanation by the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) (forward to 17:01 to hear Nicole Kapelle explain).
Coming up in Year 3…
Year 3 of the project (2021-22) will begin April 1, 2021 (the FIMP project’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31).
Upcoming Lake Surveys
The “Lake Prioritization Report“ (scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2021) will outline which lakes will be surveyed in subsequent years of the project. The report will describe the methods used to choose the lakes so that the end result is transparent, robust, and scientifically defensible. The project goal is to survey 2-3 lakes each year for Years 3 and 4.
While the Final Lake List isn’t finalized yet, the Candidate Lake List has been posted.
The Candidate Lakes was created based on the geographic location of a lake, stakeholder interest, and professional judgement and experience of the LLC FIMP Project Team. Professional judgement includes the use of information obtained during the FIMP Technical Workshops (held in early 2020) and past discussions between FIMP Project Team members and government representatives, qualified environmental professionals (QEPs) and other stakeholders. The Candidate Lake list is a carefully curated list of potential lakes that will be assessed and prioritized according to key criteria.
The Candidate Lake List will undergo a detailed assessment using multiple criterions (see the full criteria here), including geographical location (i.e., are they located in the Upper Columbia Basin—the focal area of the Program), Lake Development Pressure (quantitative data from DFO were summarized, as well as a qualitative data gleaned from a Lake Development Survey completed by FLNRORD staff), and of course the occurrence of Species and Ecosystems at risk (SAR) (including aquatic and terrestrial critters). These criterions, among others, will be used to determine the Final Lake List.
The end goal is to survey lakes that are situated in the upper Columbia Basin that are experiencing the highest lake development pressure and are home to SAR (but see the full criteria linked above) so that the development guidelines can created and implemented to conserve, protect, and restore lake foreshore habitats of the highest ecological value.
The Water Hub will host FIMP reports, maps, and raw data, but LLC anticipates making improvements and uploading data throughout the year. The CMN will host similar information that will reach an existing audience. As mentioned earlier, LLC hopes to collaborate with the RDCK to expand the number of FIMP viewing portals.
Outreach and Training
In response to an identified need for FIMP training, LLC plans to develop a FIMP training course that will be offered to consultants, First Nations, government employees, and other interested stakeholders. Once finalized, the schedule and curriculum details will be posted on the LLC website at www.livinglakescanada.ca/events.
Living Lakes Canada also gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program for its contribution to the Foreshore Integrated Management Planning Program.