Biologists attempt to minimize weed growth and ascertain types of fish currently live in Hasse Lake
By Liz Bruckner
Just a short, 30 minute drive west of Edmonton, Hasse Lake has all the makings of a great city escape. Canoeing, bird watching, hiking and family picnic spots are among this quiet water body’s offerings, as would be fishing were it not for the aggressive weed growth that’s choked out any fish species bigger than a minnow in recent years.
According to Michael Short, host of Let’s Go Outdoors, the 300 acre day use provincial park area within Parkland County has been on a steady decline for some time. The suspected cause of the pesky, increased weed population is foreign nutrients being added to the lake via various run-offs from neighbouring fields.
“In the past, the lake had a thriving population of perch, northern pike and trout. Biologists are now trying to determine the current make up of the water by setting traps to get a sense of the kinds of fish living there. As of now they haven’t found any large species, though they’ve concluded that three kinds of minnows currently inhabit it, as well as a huge population of birds, including pelicans, seagulls, loons and grebes,” he says.
While biologists are working closely with Parkland County, which is helping to inform local land owners on what they need to know to boost lake health – and in some cases, is even providing financial assistance to ensure fences are built to keep cattle from coming close to the lake – the Alberta Conservation Area (ACA) is also calling in the big guns to ensure Hasse Lake gets the attention it needs.
To that end, the ACA has called on the help of a leading expert to look at various aeration issues within Hasse Lake. “Just like a fish tank requires an air pump to oxygenate the water and keep fish healthy, lakes in compromised conditions require something similar,” says Short. “Dr. Ken Ashley from British Columbia has been brought in to help develop a plan to introduce oxygen on a much grander scale. By doing so, a large pump will be introduced to circulate the water in the lake, and ultimately boost its overall health.”
The good news: The fact that the lake has housed thousands of fish in the past adds incentive to the focus of getting it back in top form.
“There are pockets of aquatic plants still in the lake that once flourished and would take over once nutrients are balanced by the collaborative efforts of biologist and local farmers and residents,” says Short. “Once the plants are able to grow freely, they will naturally minimize the weeds currently creating much of the problem, which would allow the fish population to flourish.”
In a nutshell, Short says that in order for the lake to experience a recovery, a number of things have to take place. “Should everything come together and everyone involved work toward the common goal of repairing the lake, it will add another wonderful fishery to serve residents in and around the area for generations to come,” says Short.