For Watershed Watch Salmon Society, my work focuses on reconnecting vital salmon habitats in the lower Fraser blocked by outdated flood control structures. Loss of habitat is a key factor in the decline of struggling Fraser salmon populations and currently over 1500 km of salmon habitat is blocked by aging flood gates that don’t allow fish passage, and by flood pumps that literally kill fish.
Last year, in partnership with Tides Canada, we secured funding through the BC Salmon Restoration & Innovation Fund to identify and prioritize the most viable sites for infrastructure upgrades and habitat restoration. The project, called Resilient Waters, is now underway and despite COVID-19 stymying the planned comprehensive summer field work (postponed to Spring 2021) other aspects of the study have continued in a new virtual way.
We’ve participated in meetings with numerous lower Fraser First Nations and stakeholders to identify waterways with the most potential for flood infrastructure upgrades and we now have a list of sites ready for investment. These sites can be found on the Resilient Waters map.
Are there waterways in your community that belong on this list? If so, please reach out and tell us. This is work in progress and local knowledge is extremely valuable.
Over the summer, we’ve been advocating heavily for investment in fish-friendly infrastructure upgrades. With a flurry of COVID-19 economic stimulus conversations at both federal and provincial levels, we have been working hard to ensure decision makers are aware of this incredible opportunity to create jobs, rebuild wild salmon runs and protect communities. To date, our supporters have sent over 2,000 letters asking Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan to open up critical salmon habitat by investing in fish-friendly flood control.
Our next opportunity for action is around the corner with the annual Union of B.C Municipalities conference scheduled for September. One of the resolutions being brought forward is for the federal and provincial governments to remove the bureaucratic barriers to incorporating green infrastructure and nature-based solutions when it comes to managing for floods. Stay tuned as we’ll be rolling out a call to action soon.
In June, the Narwhal’s Stephanie Wood wrote an in-depth article on these issues. Read ‘The biggest salmon habitat issue you’ve never heard of.’