Background
Since its inception in October 2007, CLASS members have worked to address lake water health through “building community” around the issues affecting the lake, by creating awareness and promoting action where possible.

Facilitated by the Fraser Basin Council, local interests and sectors are brought together, each in their own way, to take steps to benefit Cultus Lake.

The strategy of CLASS is to bring together the science and the people, to build community around the issue of caring for Cultus Lake.

Prior to 2007 – while the Chilliwack River watershed planning was underway – Cultus Lake was identified as a crucial element in the multi-year collaborative planning process, for its role as part of the larger tributary system that connected with the Fraser River. CLASS grew out of the momentum generated, knowledge gained, and relationships built during the undertaking of the Chilliwack River Watershed Strategy.

History
For millennia, Cultus Lake has provided habitat for a range of fish species, such as its sockeye salmon population and the pygmy sculpin, unique to the lake, and for the surrounding wildlife. It has provided resources, breath-taking beauty, relaxation and lore for the nations and generations of humans who have lived on and visited its shores.

In recent decades the lake has become an increasingly popular residential and recreational destination – up to three million annual visits, according to a 2010 Fraser Valley Regional District study. In CLASS’ five-year report in 2012, it was noted the annual economic multipliers were valued at $27 million.

To ensure a safe and healthy habitat now and into the future for its aquatic residents and for human beings, it is imperative human impacts are managed.

The lake is well loved, but that brings pressures to the region. Through ongoing studies, it has become apparent the time has come to export nutrients such as excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the Cultus Lake watershed. Human impacts must be mitigated so that the lake’s ecosystem services continue to make this one of the best places in the Fraser Valley.
CLASS Record

2007
Formation of the CLASS Network
  • Outreach and gathering of interests
  • October Issues and Topics Workshop
  • Establishment of CLASS, Terms of Reference
2008
Information gathering
  • Oral History Project to learn about historic baselines of how this lake used to be. We learned about the abundant presence of fresh water clams before 1970 and how recreational management used to use copper sulphate to mitigate snails carrying “swimmer’s itch”
  • Literature Review of 72 scientific documents to learn what is known and what are the gaps
  • 3-Dimensional map of the Cultus Lake Watershed
  • First Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
2009
Starting Actions
  • Increasing partnerships with key stakeholders, built funding relationships
  • Wrote proposals
  • Increased outreach
  • Took part in events: June Pikeminnow Derby
  • Facilitated community dinner in the Yakweakwioose Longhouse
  • Began to understand nutrient loading issues
  • Initiated funding relationships (and nearly swamped a boat full of dignitaries as they all rushed forward to look at watermilfoil)
2010
  • Delivered FSWP Cultus Project
  • Cultus Lake User Survey completed
  • Volunteer watermilfoil report
  • Provided no-drip fuel spouts for boater’s jerry cans
  • Scientific reporting updates re Cultus Sockeye workshop Dec.16
  • Facilitated community dinner in the Yakweakwioose Longhouse
  • Took part in events: June Pikeminnow Derby
  • Presented to media, Cultus Com’ty Association, CLPB and others
  • Established web-site
  • Realized that human nutrient load is probably the invisible killer
  • Wrote proposals
2011
  • Launched 2-year Nutrient Mass Balance (The Scoop On Poop) in partnership with DFO scientists, thank you to FSWP and CWF
  • Established sub-committee re sewerage options, thank you to VanCity
  • Addressed lake level issues by building working relations
  • Facilitated local gov’t relations via Soowahlie C2C
  • Held Circles to build lake caring communities
  • Hosted the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin workshop
  • Organized dialogue with neighbouring elected officials
  • Initiated Sewerage planning, information and actions
  • Events: June Pikeminnow Derby, March Longhouse dinner
  • Hosted three tours with visiting Indonesian Group, local NGOs Funders, and First Nations, as well as Alexandra Morton
  • Wrote proposals, made presentations, media releases
2012
  • Continued partnering with science on Nutrients
  • Public outreach about the Cultus Pygmy Sculpin (pending funding)
  • Facilitated working relations with local gov’t (Soowhalie C2C)
  • Continued work re nutrient export via sewerage options (Vancity)
  • Initiate public outreach re SARA species (pending funding)
  • Forest Practices and watersheds (with Doug Wahl)
  • Problem solving, planning and funding options