A panorama of newly frozen Lake Windermere as seen from Lake Roads in Windermere on November 20th.

Beneath The Surface: Help keep frozen Lake Windermere waste-free

this year Lake Windermere has gained international recognition as the host of the world’s longest skating trail!

Adapted from an article by Brian Nickurak, BC Lake Stewardship Society.


Long-time mecca for winter recreation, this year Lake Windermere has gained international recognition as the host of the world’s longest skating trail! As folks go out to enjoy winter sports and activities, neither tourists nor locals are going to want to see waste on the lake.

So as we don our skis, skates or fishing gear this winter, let’s remember these useful tips for keeping the ice surface clean.

Pack out garbage

To help prevent garbage and other debris left behind from freezing into ice, make sure to pack out everything you pack on to the lake.  To take yet another step, join forces with a few neighbours to create a citizens’ patrol to monitor the ice and speak to visitors about garbage. To help remove anything that might wash onto the beaches after the ice melts this spring, join the Lake Windermere Ambassadors on their Spring Shoreline Clean-up.

Accessing the lake

Take care when accessing a frozen lake for skating, skiing or snowmobiling.  Vegetation and banks under the snow can be damaged by winter traffic, so use summer access trails to get to the lake, rather than cutting direct paths over the snow.

Cleaning up after dogs

There are a number of important reasons to pick up after our dogs, not the least of which is that none of us particularly cares for encountering dog poop while going on a nice ski or skate. In addition to aesthetic reasons, there are health-related and ecological motives for cleaning up after our beloved canine companions.

1) It is well-known that feces contain pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes that make people sick. Lake Windermere is a drinking water source, and it is not uncommon for beach-goers (especially kids!) to ingest water while recreating in the water. In the winter, young kids and animals can be found sneaking tastes of freshly fallen snow.

2) Nutrients found in dog waste cause imbalances in a lake’s natural ecosystem. It may sound odd at first, but excess nutrients leads to degradation of lake water quality. This is because nutrients from fecal matter can lead to increased algae growth, disturbing oxygen levels and other physical characteristics that fish and other animals need to survive.

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors try to keep doggie bags in stock at major entrances to the lake. Give us a heads up if you notice they are running low or empty at 250-341-6898.

In conclusion

Fishing huts were being set up just this past weekend, evidence of a thriving aquatic ecosystem that is still at work underneath the ice surface.

As the number of people recreating on the frozen lake grows, we all need to be mindful to reduce our impact to ensure the continued health of our lake.

Love your lake? Let’s work together to keep it clean!

About the Lake Windermere Ambassadors:

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are a B.C. society and charity representing a cross-section of community stakeholders, including local businesses, governments, seasonal and year-round homeowners, First Nations, youth and non-government organizations who share the vision of a healthy Lake Windermere with balanced management that supports recreational and traditional uses, fish and wildlife values, and economic prosperity in the region.  We have received generous financial support from the Canadian Wildlife Foundation, Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, District of Invermere, Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust, Real Estate Foundation of BC and Regional District of East Kootenay.

“Beneath The Surface” is based on the principle that there is often more to know than what is visible from the “surface” of an issue. If there is something that concerns you about the lake and you want to get to the “bottom of it”, call Lake Windermere Ambassadors program co-ordinator Megan Peloso at 250-341-6898 and inspire the next column!

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