A unique natural treasure, the Spotted Lake, a saline endorheic lake, is located in the Similkameen Valley in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Osoyoos, a town in the Okanaga Valley, is the nearest city to this lake. The lake can be accessed by tourists via the Highway 3. During summer, this lake adorns a spotted appearance. As most of the water of the lake evaporates, it leaves behind colorful, circular spots of mineral deposits on the lake bed which gives the lake its name.
The region around the Spotted Lake was originally inhabited by the indigenous tribes of the Okanagan Valley who referred to the lake as "Kilkuk". During the course of World War I, the lake played a significant role when its minerals were utilized in ammunition manufacturing. Later, the lake area became the private property of the Ernest Family, and remained so for about 40 years. In 1979, when the Smith family decided to utilize the lake for making a spa, the First Nations were not too happy. They did not wish to lose the lake which had for generations served as a traditional healing source to their people. Thus, in 2001, after extensive negotiations, 22 hectares of land was bought by the Indian Affairs Department of the Canadian government at a price of $720,000. 20% of this cost was borne by the tribal members of the First Nations peoples. Finally, they were returned the land which they had owned before the acquisition of it by the Smith family.
The Spotted Lake has a unique hydrology and mineral composition. A large number of minerals like magnesium, sodium, and calcium sulfates, titanium and silver are found in the lake. During summer when the water of the lake evaporates, the mineral deposits remain behind in the form of colored spots on the lake bed. The mud and waters of the lake are used for therapeutic healing by the natives of the region. The natives use these minerals to treat headaches and other ailments.
The habitat surrounding the Spotted Lake is rich in biodiversity. The nearby Okanagan Valley houses a variety of wild animals like the bears, cougars, moose, and caribou. Snakes, including a venomous variety of rattlesnakes, also inhabit in the region. The area is also a very famous spot for birding. Over 200 species of birds flock to the area, and several bird fairs are held in the region.
Threats To The Ecosystem
The Spotted Lake and its surrounding habitat have suffered years of degradation at the hands of humans. Mining activities carried out in the region have led to the loss of vegetation over large sections of the region. Commercial orchard and ranching operations have also damaged the natural vegetation of the area. The number of wildl species in the region are also drastically reduced due to years of poaching and hunting. Currently, the area is being used for the development of recreational, housing, and commercial development activities.