Upcoming event celebrates local rivers

Hope Mountain Centre hosts educational paddle trip on the Fraser

Dozens of canoes and kayaks will travel down the Fraser in a giant flotilla

The Hope Mountain Centre is hosting another special event to honour the Fraser River and celebrate World Rivers Day on Sept. 29.

A paddle trip for canoes and kayaks will take participants downriver from Kilby to Mission, a continuation of the 2009 trip that took paddlers from Hope to Agassiz.

“It’s more than a paddle trip,” said program director Kelly Pearce. “It’s a celebration of the greatest salmon river on earth. Right now, 16 million pink salmon are spawning between Hope and Mission – the largest single run on the entire Fraser and the largest salmon run found anywhere in the world.”

Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day, calls the Hope-to-Mission stretch the “Heart of the Fraser” in honour of the ecological wealth found there. It produces not only millions of pinks and hundreds of thousands of chum salmon, but at least 30 species of fresh-water fish, including the largest population of white sturgeon in Canada.  Many bird and mammal species are also supported by the river and its forests.

A growing conservation initiative, headed by the Nature Trust of BC and the International River Foundation, seeks to better protect the river from encroaching development. These organizations contend that as the population of the Lower Mainland continues to grow, it is increasingly urgent that governments, First Nations, and the private sector work collaboratively to protect the Fraser from unchecked development.

River scientists will be joining the paddle trip this year. Marvin Rosenau, a professional fish biologist, will be netting and identifying fish for the audience. In addition, Pearce said that Mike Church will also be along for the ride.

“Mike is a river morphologist and retired UBC instructor, widely considered to be the leading ‘Gravel Guru’ for the Fraser,” he said, adding that it’s the gravel that makes the Hope-to-Mission stretch so important to fish.

“This piece of the Fraser has just the right gradient and flow to distribute gravel over a broad floodplain, creating the complex of islands, side channels, and gravel bars where fish love to spawn.”

The paddle trip includes lunch and bus transportation between Kilby and Mission, and there are boat options for people with no paddling experience.

To register, contact Hope Mountain Centre at 604-869-1274 or at www.hopemountain.org

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