Parks Canada staff inspect and tag boats in Wasagaming last Thursday as part of new Parks Canada restrictions for boaters on Clear Lake. The new rules state boaters must pass an initial inspection before June 15 to receive a permit to use a trailered vessel in Clear Lake and cannot have used their watercraft in any other body of water this year. The restrictions are meant to prevent the spread of invasive species into the lake. (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun)

Boaters who visit Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park aren’t daunted by new regulations to protect the lake from zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, Parks Canada says, despite some backlash to the incoming rules.

Parks Canada staff have been busy tagging boats that will be used at Clear Lake this season. Over the weekend, around 250 boats in Clear Lake arrived for tagging. And in Brandon on Monday, roughly 40 boaters gathered in the parking lot of the Keystone Centre for the same purpose.

Under the new federal regulations, which come into effect Thursday and will last throughout this boating season, operators must not have used their craft in any other body of water this year and must pass an initial inspection before June 15 to receive a permit to use a trailered vessel in Clear Lake.

Parks Canada will enforce the new rules by installing tags to attach boats to trailers, which will inform park staff the vessel has not been in another water body and poses no risk of bringing aquatic invasive species into Clear Lake. If the tag is removed, cut or tampered with, the boat will not be allowed to launch in the lake for the remainder of the season.

Boaters are taking the new regulations in stride, said Dameon Wall, Riding Mountain National Park’s external relations manager.

“Parks Canada has been really impressed with the approach that people are bringing to this. They understand the need to protect the lake over the long term, and generally are very supportive of what we’re doing,” he said.

The incoming regulations aim to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, an invasive species originally found in Russia and Ukraine that reproduces quickly and can impact a habitat’s food chain, clog water intake systems and damage watercraft.

And while there have been some critics of the stricter rules, including the Wasagaming Chamber of Commerce’s president, Karly McRae, Wall said people he has talked to, and many on social media, have vocalized their support of the new initiatives.

“The overwhelming response has been a clear understanding that we’re doing this for the future, that Parks Canada is standing up for nature, for future generations,” he said.

After Parks Canada announced the new procedures, McRae launched an online petition calling for the federal agency to overturn its decision and restore previous rules, saying the new regulations will harm the local economy.

“Negative economic impacts resulting from banning of trailered watercraft on Clear Lake will be far reaching. Business valuations will plummet, and all business sectors will be impacted, from visitor accommodations to local contractors and service providers,” McRae wrote on the petition.

Greg Nesbitt, Manitoba’s natural resources and northern development minister, told the Sun on Friday the province supports Parks Canada’s efforts to prevent zebra mussels and other invasive species from entering Clear Lake through new measures announced that day.

The measures include the creation of additional control zones, which are bodies of water that have been invaded by zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. This is critical to containing the spread of invasive species, Nesbitt said.

“These changes will enhance our government’s strategic efforts to prevent and contain the spread of (aquatic invasive species), which pose a significant threat to our water bodies and aquatic ecosystems.”

Under the new provincial guidelines, watercraft users will need to clean, drain, dry and decontaminate watercraft to effectively prevent the spread of invasive species within Manitoba.

The province is also ramping up its annual watercraft inspection program with inspection stations across Manitoba, including additions to Minnedosa, Grand Rapids and Ste. Rose du Lac, which will open in the coming weeks.

The stations at Ste. Rose du Lac and Minnedosa are new locations placed specifically to respond to growing zebra mussel and other AIS threats in western Manitoba.

“I felt for a long time, even before I was minister, that we needed a station in western Manitoba,” Nesbitt said. “I told my department we needed to have one.”

Anyone transporting motorized or non-motorized watercraft over land must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations along their route. Set fines for aquatic invasive species offences are in effect year-round and carry a range of penalties, depending on the offence.

For more information on aquatic invasive species, the requirements, and location and hours of watercraft inspection stations, visit

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 30, 2023 at 07:32

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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