Personnel at Big Bar slide on the Fraser moving salmon in a temporary holding pen on Wednesday July 24, 2019. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Significant progress made securing fish passage on the Fraser River at landslide site

While chinook numbers are dropping now, they’re expecting a million pink salmon to head upriver

It’s being called a milestone in terms of fish moving past the landslide obstruction on a remote part of the Fraser River.

“Significant progress” was noted on Sept. 1 at the Big Bar slide site when 30,000 fish were detected swimming past the blockage on their own.

“That was a significant accomplishment and a real milestone,” said Michael Crowe, environmental unit lead for the Big Bar Incident Command Post team, about the natural fish passage that instruments recorded.

Multi-pronged efforts by First Nations, federal and provincial officials are continuing to seek ways to help the fish blocked at the slide site, northwest of Kamloops.

“The chinook numbers are dropping,” Crowe said, adding that fish capture numbers had declined, but more sockeye and pinks will be arriving.

“We expect pinks to arrive in very large numbers in the coming days.”

They estimated that more than a million pink salmon maybe on their way, and they are looking for new fishing areas to increase productivity.

“We are uncertain if the recent success we’ve seen with sockeye will be achieved with pinks,” Crowe said.

In terms transporting fish by helicopter, so far they’ve moved more than 60,000 fish upriver of the slide. Another 73,000 “free swimming” fish have made it past the blockage on their own, including the 30,000 in one day, due to ongoing engineering work and rock scaling efforts where the main priority is creating channels for the fish, Crowe explained.

READ MORE: Goal is to free the fish as fast as possible

Work on a second fish wheel, and possible dipnetting is being considered. Test runs of the newly opened road look promising for trucking fish in the hours helicopters cannot fly.

The available work area for the rock scalers increased dramatically since the water levels started dropping in the past few days.

Plans are underway to install “anchor points” into the east wall of the canyon so that materials and heavy objects can be moved on cables across the river. The idea is to bring in a “spider excavator,” a non-tracked type of equipment, that can navigate over the constantly changing and challenging terrain, with specialized wheels. The plan is to bring it to the base of the slide in order to open up a big chunk of the blockage to allow fish to pass more freely.

About 190 personnel have been working on various aspects of the incident since it was reported in late June, from scientists and engineers, Indigenous fishing crews, archaeological monitors, field and support staff from the BC Wildfire Service, as well as biologists, rock scalers and hydrologists.

READ MORE: Helicopters moved 44,000 fish


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Court orders Hope-area First Nation council to accept long-contested memberships

Federal judge rules Peters Band Council acted “irrationally, unreasonably” in rejecting applications

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

SD 78 approves budget for 2019-2020

No changes to the bottom line, unanimous approval

Chilliwack biologist to speak on climate change at Green Party AGM

Dr. Carin Bondar is an author, adjunct professor and an explorer who has discovered new species

B.C. GAMES: Agassiz speed skater breaks through top 10 three times

Mya Onos competed with top speed skaters in province

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

Seven arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Hospital parking fees needed, but changes to payment system possible, health minister says

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix says hospital parking doesn’t need to be so stressful

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Calls about rock throwing on Golden Ears Bridge leads to arrest

Ridge Meadows RCMP arrest man with Canada-wide warrant for murder charge out of Edmonton

IHOP to host seventh annual National Pancake Day

IHOP will be offering free short-stack pancakes in support of BC Children’s Hospital on Tuesday

Do you talk to your spouse about money? 42% of Canadians don’t, poll suggests

Politics, sex, religion top list of taboo subjects for Canadians

Okanagan animal sanctuary seeks to fit frostbitten baby goat with prosthetic leg

Fundraiser started to help Zuri, newest resident of Twin Hearts Animal Sanctuary

Most Read