Fifteen high school students as well as community members and educators from Mosakahiken Cree Nation are with CPAWS Manitoba and Twin River Travel this week at Little Limestone Lake; the world’s largest and most dramatic colour-changing marl lake. In 2011, after many years of CPAWS working together with Mosakahiken, the lake and its surrounding landscape was protected from industrial developments as a provincial park but now neglect and visitor misconduct are posing a challenge to the lake.
Though Little Limestone Lake is within Mosakahiken's traditional territory and Resource Management Area, it is 6 hours by vehicle from the community. As a result, the majority of Mosakahiken members have never experienced this unique waterbody and thus community stewardship of the lake is minimal.
With its close proximity to a major highway, and insufficient monitoring and upkeep, the lake has become a popular informal gathering location. This has unfortunately left part of the shoreline and surrounding forest in a somewhat littered state. To keep the lake and area healthy, we will be conducting a clean-up activity this week.
The students are learning about the unique aspects of the lake and surrounding marl landscape, watersheds, traditional land use, wilderness camping and paddling, commercial fishing, and bird banding. Discussion topics include how their actions can have impacts downstream and how the lake’s uniqueness offers opportunity for local sustainable eco-tourism ventures.
The students are engaging in data collection and monitoring through use of trail and time-lapse cameras, digital cameras, plant pressing and night sound recording to document the lake from their own perspectives.
After the trip, the students will follow-up with presentations to the Mosakahiken Cree Nation community that will include the student’s photographs, stories, and posters that will be followed by community-wide discussions on how to best protect and manage the lake into the future and embrace eco-tourism opportunities that can provide jobs for community members.