The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA) kicked off a summer series of free Lake Learning Workshops on Saturday, July 23, a number of forums designed to provide information, encourage discussion and learn ways to preserve and protect our lake.
 Held at the Lakedell Agricultural Hall, Ryan Devlin of the PLWA presented the first in the series of programs, entitled Central Alberta Lake Biology 101.  With a power point presentation, Devlin explained how Pigeon and other central Alberta lakes came to be, formed by glacial movement carving out areas that filled with melting glacier ice.  Pigeon Lake, by surface, said Devlin, is the largest recreation lake in central Alberta.
 The Pigeon Lake watershed is a smaller watershed within the larger Battle River watershed, which in turn is part of the greater North Saskatchewan watershed, explained Ryan.  Unlike the North Saskatchewan River, neither Pigeon or Battle Lakes are glacier-fed.  Rather, water supply comes entirely from rain and snow run-off.

What lives in our Lakes?
 Beneath the waves exists an ecosystem of various life forms, each contributing to the equilibrium of the underwater environment.  A delicate balance of microorganisms, invertebrates, such as snails and water beetles, fish and plant life are examples of the busy world coexisting underwater.  In any underwater ecosystem, plants and animals are dependent upon each other for survival.
Pigeon Lake is home to the Northern Pike, often called Jackfish, Burbot, Walleye, Whitefish and Yellow Perch.

Restoring Balance
 "Not all algae is bad," said Devlin.  Over the past several decades the lake has been affected by increased residential and recreational development, agriculture and oil and gas operations in the watershed.  The growth of various activities in the lake's watershed area over the years has altered the lake's natural balance by human litter and imbalance of nitrogen-phosphorus ratio, introduced through gradual fertilization, livestock waste and septic field leakage into the lake.  The cyanobacteria, or blue green algae blooms in Pigeon Lake in the past few years is evidence of the upset to the lake's homeostatic balance.

Invasive Plants
 Noxious weeds are a serious concern as their proliferation often chokes out indigenous plant life.  The Himalayan Balsam has become a fast-spreading, worrisome noxious weed around Pigeon Lake.  Introduced as an ornamental because of its attractive flower and sweet aroma, its beauty belies its damaging effects as it invades and chokes out plants native to the area.  Himalayan Balsam can grow to three meters in height and has made its way to several beaches around Pigeon Lake.  More about this and other invasive plants will be presented in an upcoming PLWA workshop.

More to Come
 Upcoming free information sessions you won't want to miss are:
• August 6 at 1:00 pm. - Private Sewage Systems 10.
 This workshop will address such questions as how a septic system works, how long will a septic field last, and to be sure it is working.  The session will cover  information on holding tanks, pumping, treatment systems and will present an update on the regional wastewater system.
• August 6 at 2:30 p.m. - Lakeshore Living 101
 Lakeshore living comes with many rewards AND responsibilities.  Learn about our  shoreline and who owns it.  Hear discussion on what is a riparian and littoral zone  and why they are important.  This workshop will cover the do's and don'ts of living  on the lakeshore, activities that potentially harm the lake and what we can do to  protect our shorelines, lake and watershed areas.
• August 13 at 10:00 a.m. - Invasive Plants
 Alberta Invasive Plant Council will lead this presentation, with in depth information  on the Himalayan Balsam and other noxious weeds to watch for, how to recognize  them and how each of us can play a part in the eradication of invasive plants  around our lake.
 Lake residents and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association's Annual General Meeting and Open House on August 27 at 9:00 a.m. The AGM will be held at the Lakedell Hall.  For detailed information, visit website

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