FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2019
Two projects on Bonaparte River will help Chinook and Coho Spawn
VANCOUVER – Pacific Salmon Foundation announced two grants totaling $40,000 to help returning adult Chinook and coho migration on the Bonaparte River, a tributary of the Thompson River which flows by the communities of Ashcroft and Kamloops. A damaged man-made fishway that historically enabled passage for salmon around a natural obstacle is now preventing salmon from reaching spawning grounds.
“There is an extremely limited amount of spawning habitat below the fishway, but well over 100 kilometres of habitat upstream,” said Aaron Gillespie, operations manager for the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission. “Without this project there will once again be a near complete loss of another year of Chinook and coho, just like our Steelhead stocks which were prevented from migrating upstream last year. There are plans underway to fix the fishway this summer, but in the meantime many people are doing all that we can to try and get fish upstream to spawn.”
The funds will help the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission and Shuswap Nation Tribal Council install a new fish fence to capture salmon and transport them to spawning grounds upstream of the Bonaparte fishway. The first project scheduled for July 1 is timed to help returning Chinook and the second project will start on September 15 when coho return.
Natural erosion and further erosion from flood events in spring and summer damaged the rock foundation of the fishway which once helped slow water flow for salmon. Now the river rushes through the fishway largely unimpeded and is too turbulent for fish to navigate. DFO has been working to repair the damages, but extreme high water levels have made working conditions unsafe and have prevented heavy equipment from reaching the site. Biologists suspect that the Elephant Hill wildfire that raged over 192,000 hectares in 2017 significantly changed the forest soil. The soil is now less able to absorb water resulting in changes to normal flows in the Bonaparte River. River discharge this past winter was up to 500% more than usual.
“Abnormal conditions are more frequently becoming the new normal in the salmon world,” said Michael Meneer, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Our changing climate means inevitable changes to how salmon rivers function.”
The grants were part of $1.3 Million in grants awarded to 151 projects in British Columbia and the Yukon. The total value of these projects including matching donations of in-kind and cash at the community level was $9.7 Million. The Community Salmon Program is largely supported through fees from the Salmon Conservation Stamp which is affixed to tidal fishing licenses and required to retain Pacific salmon species in B.C.
The Pacific Salmon Foundation receives 100% of Stamp proceeds to redistribute as grants to community groups which are added to donations from businesses and individuals, and proceeds from fundraising dinners.
Pacific Salmon Foundation
Office: 604 664 7664 ext. 123
Cell: 604 340 6940
About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:
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 by supporting local communities. www.psf.ca
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