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Effect on lake could be far reaching: Letcher

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 16/02) - When Loyal Letcher and his financial backers decided to build North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge on Cli Lake four years ago, one reason was because the lake was among the clearest in the NWT. It is also teeming with fish.

Letcher is now concerned about the Aug. 3 landslide's impact on the environment.

"It's going to change the whole ecosystem of the lake. There's going to be some major scientific studies out there," he predicted, adding that baseline data was collected only a few years ago.

Already, the shape of the shoreline has been altered and the water level in the 13 x 6.5 kilometre lake has risen by more than 60 centimetres, Letcher noted. Much of the water has become turbid, or murky.

"There are long-term effects that we don't know," said Letcher. "I've never seen a landslide like that, so massive."

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the territorial Department of Renewable Resources and Wildlife, for which Letcher works, will be monitoring the consequences.

He said excessive rainfall in the Cli Lake area over the summer may have triggered the calamity.

It's also possible a minor seismic event may have occurred, he suggested.

The lodge has only sustained minor damage. The torrential rain also caused a nearby creek to overflow and it deposited silt all over lodge grounds.