Our fieldwork season for the Resilient Waters project is wrapping up this month for the year. Since 2021, Watershed Watch has supported the team from Pearson Ecological with data collection on fish and water quality on creeks, sloughs and side channels all across the lower Fraser River. The data we’re collecting are building the case for projects that will update old flood infrastructure that is currently blocking off salmon habitat and killing fish.
We kicked things off in April this year at Chilliwack’s Backwash Slough. Water levels were the lowest we’ve seen for April during data collection, and this made it a bit tricky to find spots to place fish traps. The site might look a bit different in the next couple of years, as a dike breach is being planned to reconnect this vital habitat. It’s exciting for us and our allies to see projects like this coming to fruition after working so hard to make them happen.
In late May, Watershed Watch volunteer Avery Leake was hired to support the field team with data collection and he fit right in with the crew. (You can read about Avery’s experiences in the field here).
Over the course of the field season, our hard-working team visited nearly two dozen waterways between Delta and Agassiz two to three times each. Each site is a bit different each time we visit, between the effects of spring freshet, changing tides, beavers and other factors, but with Mike Leon and Sherry Miller of Pearson Ecological leading the fieldwork most weeks, and their two years of prior experience with these sites, it made for our most efficient fieldwork season yet.
Data collection was also supported by many Indigenous Guardians who were brought on to help with data collection in their territories and many wonderful Watershed Watch volunteers.
There were some exciting firsts this year: the first time trapping salmon in the upper reaches of Lower Agassiz Slough (learn more about that huge finding here) and the first time the field team spotted elk during data collection. This year marked a new record for one-day black bear sightings, with 31 separate observations at Coquitlam’s Addington Point Marsh this summer and a fish trap record of 250 catfish in one Feddes trap.
We look forward to getting back out there in the new year and sharing more updates about these sites as we continue to advocate for fish-friendly upgrades to flood control structures across the lower mainland!