The question we were asked most often in the last month: wasn’t there more water here before?
We promise that you aren’t losing your mind, West Biddle Lake has gone through some changes recently! If you noticed that the lake seemed emptier than usual, you are correct. Now that it is refilled for the coming seasons, we figured that it was time to share the full story!
You’re probably wondering why we drain the lake in the first place. This seems like an unusual practice!
Unlike many other bodies of water, that which sits in West Biddle is used directly for fish production at the Vancouver Trout Hatchery. It is this clear, cool water that allows us to produce so many rainbow trout, steelhead, and chum salmon each year. Therefore, it is important for us to keep this water in perfect condition for our fish. If we were to let the lake remain filled forever, it may attract invasive species, algae, parasites bad for the salmon, and cause a buildup of sediment by the West Biddle Lake dam. Opening the floodgates and letting the water flow through allows us to look for these issues and address them before they get out of control. It’s all for the health and happiness of the salmon!
That’s good news for the salmon, but how does this impact West Biddle Lake’s wildlife?
Luckily our lake “drain” doesn’t remove all of the water from this landscape. Throughout the summer a small stream remains in the lakebed, which still provides excellent habitat for the organisms that live in the water. In fact, when the fertile soil in this lakebed becomes dry, it allows for an abundance of plant growth. The whole place turns into a meadow! The ducks love the new aquatic vegetation that they can access and the deer couldn’t be happier about the grass. The process is beautiful to watch.
As you may know, next year’s annual lake drain will not be the largest change to our site with the improvements planned for 2022. The (much needed) replacement of the aging West Biddle Lake dam will be a stark difference in our landscape. We know that this project will do wonders for the safety and appearance of the area. Take a sneak peek at our plans below, and make sure to read our last blog post for the full story if you missed it!