It’s a lake so blue you would think you were in the Caribbean—until it freezes in the fall.
Now Little Limestone Lake—believed to be the largest and best example of a colour-changing lake in the world—has been preserved as a provincial park.
“This lake is (a) true sign of mother nature’s beauty and experts consider it to be the largest and most outstanding example of a marl lake in the world,” Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie said in a statement released on Friday after the province signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mosakahiken Cree Nation to co-operate in managing the lake.
“By designating it part of a provincial park, we are taking the step that will protect it for generations to come.”
It will be Manitoba’s 85th provincial park and the fourth designated this year.
The lake, a 15-kilometre-long body of water, changes colour as the temperature rises. The province says a marl lake “turns from clear to a stunning opaque turquoise or even a milky blue-white in warm summer weather.”
The phenomenon occurs because warmer temperatures increase the amount of calcite (a constituent of limestone) in the water, which affects the colour of the lake.
The province has no plans to construct roads, trails, campgrounds or buildings at the lake even though it has been designated a provincial park. The area will be managed as a “non-operational park,” with no development, so its natural features can be protected.
Mosakahiken Chief Phillip Buck said his reserve “considers protection and co-operative management of the lake and the land that supports it to be a high priority.
“Our memorandum of understanding with the province marks the launch of a process to explore expanding the park’s boundaries and ensures sustainable economic tourism opportunities for our community.”
Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said they’re happy the province has protected the lake. He said CPAWS and Nature Manitoba have been working to protect the lake for almost 20 years.
“We commend Mosakahiken and the Manitoba government for recognizing this beautiful and unique water body,” Thiessen said. “We look forward to continuing our work with all involved to ensure that the park boundaries required to protect the lake will be determined by local knowledge and science.”
The lake is home to walleye, whitefish, perch and pike and it hosts a managed biannual commercial walleye and whitefish fishery. Commercial fishing by aboriginal people will continue.
The park is on Highway 6 about 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg and 65 kilometres north of Grand Rapids.
The province has put photos, maps and information about the new park at www.manitobaparks.com
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2011 A17