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Management plan nears completion for River of Golden Dreams watershed

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Plan will provide a framework for the municipality to help balance the different values at stake in the watershed

Paddling a canoe from the Lakeside Park on Alta Lake to Green Lake via the River of Golden Dreams is on the list of essential Whistler experiences, like hiking Singing Pass or skiing the Blackcomb Glacier.

You can do it in half an hour if you paddle full out, but you’ll probably want to take it slow and check out the scenery. It’s a view of Whistler you’ve never seen before – with all but a few residences obscured by vegetation, a trip down the River of Golden Dreams gives you an idea of what Whistler might have been like before all of the development.

There’s another way to view the River of Golden Dreams, however, and that requires taking a step back to look at the big picture. It’s a small but important part of a larger water system that starts at the peak of Rainbow Mountain, and trickles down into Whistler via seven different streams and a number of smaller unnamed tributaries.

It includes Alta Lake, a focal point of recreation, and both of Whistler’s primary drinking water sources – Twenty One Mile Creek for most of Whistler and Agnew Creek for the Alpine Meadows and Emerald subdivisions. And throughout the entire watershed, there are wildlife values, fish values and recreational values to balance and protect, starting at the source.

To determine what those values are and how best to protect them, the municipality commissioned the River of Golden Dreams Watershed Plan. The plan looks at the watershed both as a whole and in its individual components, recommending actions to accomplish six fundamental goals:

1. Water quality and quantity are protected and restored in all streams, lakes and wetlands within the River of Golden Dreams (ROGD) watershed;

2. The quality and quantity of aquatic and terrestrial habitat within the River of Golden Dreams watershed is protected and restored;

3. Potential flooding risk to life and property within the ROGD watershed is minimized through ecologically sensitive means;

4. The ROGD watershed experiences minimal ecological impacts from diverse recreation opportunities;

5. ROGD watershed stakeholders demonstrate co-operative stewardship;

6. Watershed management initiatives within the ROGD watershed reflect the principle of adaptive management.

This is Whistler’s second watershed management plan, if you include the Crabapple Creek plan which was smaller in scope.

According to Christina Symko, the independent contractor hired to research and write the ROGD report, watershed management plans are becoming a vital resource for B.C. communities.

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