Port Metro Vancouver partners with Pacific Salmon Foundation for Eagle Creek Salmon
VANCOUVER: A Burnaby-based wildlife conservation group has received more than $12,500 in funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Port Metro Vancouver for a project starting this August. The Eagle Creek Streamkeepers Society is using the funds to improve fish passage in Eagle Creek, a creek that has seen a marked increase in salmon returns during the last two years. The funds were part of $1.4 million in grants made to 132 projects in 2013 through the foundation’s community salmon program. The projects had a total value of $7.5 million through additional donations of goods, labor and money from the community.
Eagle Creek is an urban stream that has become one of the most prolific salmon streams past the Cariboo Dam, largely due to successful conservation efforts. Fish heading for the creek to spawn travel from the Fraser River into the Brunette system, before climbing a fish ladder in Burnaby Lake and accessing Eagle Creek. The new funds will help the society improve an aging fish ladder near the mouth of the creek that has become more of a hindrance than a help. Fish ladders are a series of low steps placed in the stream that enable fish to swim and leap up into waters on the other side. Streambed erosion and culverts in urban streams can create a vertical challenge that prevents fish from reaching spawning grounds. The work will be done in August when the water flow is at its lowest.
“Since the creek became healthy enough to support fish populations, our focus for the last eight years has been on removing barriers, in particular, two areas just below Lougheed Highway,” said Nick Kvenich, a volunteer with the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers Society. “The survival of salmon in Eagle Creek is based on the recovery of areas lost to urbanization. Just in the last few years we’re seeing salmon spawn further and further up the creek, from north of Lougheed Highway all the way up to the Broadway culvert, just northwest of Lake City skytrain station. This project will be the final step in a series of initiatives our group has undertaken to recover this vibrant creek.”
The group started 16 years ago and spent the first five years cleaning up pollutants in the creek and releasing coho fry. They were rewarded with the first evidence of a spawning salmon about ten years ago. Since then, coho have returned in gradually-increasing numbers and last year saw a record number of chum salmon return.
“Urban stream conservation can be very challenging and frustrating for community groups because they have to deal with constant human pressures and mis-use of the watershed often done through lack of awareness,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, CEO and president of the foundation. “But these are also the streams where fish most struggle, so continued work on these streams is important. Without the persistent efforts of groups like the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers Society, and the support of responsible corporations like Port Metro Vancouver, these fish have little chance to survive. ”
“We are proud to support the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers Society and their work to protectsalmon habitat and educate the public,” said Carrie Brown, Director, Environmental Programs at Port Metro Vancouver. “Seeing salmon swim in your neighborhood is a powerful reminder that local ditches and streams may also be important habitat that needs to be protected.”
The grant follows a contribution made earlier last year from Port Metro Vancouver in partnership with the foundation to another salmon conservation group, the Maple Ridge Bell-Irving Hatchery. Partnered grant for $17,400 helped the hatchery make several improvements to infrastructure and equipment. The hatchery is also a hub for several educational initiatives in the community.
Significant funding for the grants was generated through proceeds from sales of the Salmon Conservation Stamp, the decal that must be purchased annually by anglers if they wish to keep Pacific salmon caught in saltwater off of Canada’s West Coast. Since 1989, the foundation has received $7.75 million in Salmon Conservation Stamp funds.
In addition to funds generated by the Salmon Conservation Stamp, the foundation raises another roughly $1 million annually through eight community fundraising dinners, corporate and private donations and contributions made through B.C. sport fishing lodges.
Since 1987, the Pacific Salmon Foundation has invested $41.3 million into 2,262 projects for wild Pacific salmon conservation. The projects were largely the work of more than 35,000 volunteer streamkeepers across B.C. Combined with volunteer labor and local donations of goods, services and money, the total value of the projects has been $147 million during the last 27 years.
About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:
The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca
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