In June 2023, the Skeena Knowledge Trust facilitated a LakeKeepers Workshop which brought together students, retirees, and everyone in between to learn about lake ecology and environmental stewardship. The workshop took place in Smithers and Telkwa, BC with attendees including members of the Seymour Lake Conservation Society, Lake Kathlyn Protection Society, and Tyhee Lake Protection Society.

Joseph McDaniel records dissolved oxygen measurements at Tyhee Lake while Al Campbell looks on.

The LakeKeepers Workshop was presented by the BC Lakes Stewardship Society (BCLSS) – a non-profit organization with a focus on lake monitoring and education in BC. Norm Zirnhelt came up north to lead the workshop, following a similar workshop held at Lakelse Lake  near Terrace in partnership with SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Kitselas Five Tier System and the Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society. 

The first day of the workshop took place at the Old Church in Smithers, and featured topics including lake chemistry, what happens during lake turnover, and water sampling techniques. Attendees had the opportunity to ask Norm about issues and concerns specific to their local lakes and some great discussions followed. A highlight of the session was trying out some of the different lake samplers Norm provided. 

Tisha and Ben Witt try out a lake sampler during the classroom session of the workshop. The lake sampler is lowered to a specific depth in a lake before the operator triggers the closing mechanism, capturing a sample of water from that depth.

Kelly Jones and Joseph McDavid try out a lake sampler with instruction from Norm Zirnhelt.

The second day of the workshop brought everyone out to the beautiful Tyhee Lake park for some hands-on field experience. Attendees took turns collecting water samples, measuring Secchi disk depth and dissolved oxygen, and collecting and identifing some of the myriad aquatic plants, animals, and invertebrates that live in the rich ecosystem found along the shore of Tyhee Lake.

Norm Zirnhelt explains how to correctly record lake monitoring and sampling information.

Don Morgan is ready to collect water samples.

Tisha and Ben Witt identify aquatic critters with assistance from Candace Collier.

Tisha Witt and Connor Farrell measure Secchi disk depth at Tyhee Lake. How deep you can lower the disk into the water and still see it tells you how clear the water is – an important indicator of algae blooms or suspended sediment.

Don Morgan is ready to collect water samples.

Connor Farrell goes looking for aquatic plants and invertebrates on the shore of
Tyhee Lake.

Al Campbell from the Tyhee Lake Protection Society (TLPS) said that “this was a superb workshop. It resolved some questions for TLPS [and] it was exceptionally clear and well organized”.

Participating in the LakeKeepers Workshop provided attendees with the skills, confidence, and credibility to undertake a lake monitoring program and ensure they can collect high quality monitoring data on their own. The lake monitoring data can then be used to determine trends in water quality and shared with community members and decision makers. Three popular lakes in the Bulkley Valley – Tyhee Lake, Lake Kathlyn, and Seymour Lake – are currently being monitored by volunteers for BCLSS assessments, with monitoring information shared on the Skeena Knowledge Trust’s What’s in my Watershed? dashboards.  

Next Steps

We are continuing to work with Skeena residents and groups interested in water quality monitoring and data collection to bolster environmental monitoring, awareness, and stewardship efforts in the region. We will also be continuing to facilitate educational opportunities and events to help build up capacity and interest in watershed stewardship in the Skeena.

Do you have any suggestions for workshops or training opportunities you would like to see come to the Skeena region in the future? Please contact us at



The LakeKeepers Workshop could not have taken place without the generous funding support from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Mclean Foundation, MakeWay, Sitka Foundation, and Wetzink’wa Forest Corporation. We would also like to thank Al Campbell for taking everyone out on his beautiful boat, Marie McCallum and Amy Baxter with the BCLSS for their help and support, and our fantastic instructor Norm Zirnhelt and partner Candace Collier!