First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

First Nations leaders from across B.C. are calling for immediate action on the Fraser River to remove the blockage at the Big Bar landslide site within 60 days to allow fish passage.

A “state of emergency” needs to be declared on the Fraser River, said Regional Chief Terry Teegee of First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), urging the federal government to “urgently prioritize resources” to tackle the crisis.

Remediation work for remote slide site being planned now by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and partners, may not be completed in time to save some salmon runs from extinction, some are warning.

“To this day, B.C. First Nations have maintained a sacred relationship with the salmon that migrate through their territories and beyond,” Chief Teegee said. “Extreme efforts and resources must be put forth immediately to preserve cultures and ways of life that have existed for thousands of years.”

READ MORE: Helicopter transfer tried to move fish upstream

DFO issued a request for information (RFI) on Nov. 27 to seek the contractors with expertise in construction and environmental mediation needed “to re-establish natural fish passage” by removing the blockage.

“The intention is to ensure that construction activities begin as soon as possible, and while water levels in the Fraser River are low,” according to DFO in an update on Dec. 2.

READ MORE: Sockeye were stymied in a bad year

But the future impacts on Early Stuart and chinook from Big Bar blockage in particular constitute an emergency in the making right now, according to Sto:lo Tribal Council Grand Chief Ken Malloway, a Sto:lo fisherman, and member of the First Nations advisory panel on the Big Bar slide.

“The thing we’re concerned about, at this time of year with the water dropping, is there is still some very large rock that needs to be removed,” said Malloway. “They need to be in there now blasting and removing rock.”

Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chair of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, said the salmon stocks need “all the help” they can get.

“Right now there are low water levels on the Fraser. So if anything substantial is to happen it has to happen by the month of January,” Chief Alphonse said, not February or March. “There is only a small window of opportunity. They have to get on it.”

Last summer the Tŝilhqot’in were expecting to see a return of a million fish from the Chilko Lake run, the “healthiest, strongest run” of sockeye on the Fraser, he said. But only about 170,000 sockeye returned.

READ MORE: Removing rock from the river is the goal

Responding to early slide reports in July 2019, an unprecedented government-to-government-to-government protocol was put in place, led by the Incident Command Post management team based in Kamloops. Unified team efforts brought together provincial, DFO, and First Nations, who all worked toward freeing the fish trapped behind the slide. Current Big Bar landslide updates can be found here .


@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

 

A photo of workers scaling the cliffs above the Big Bar Slide on the Fraser River. (Trevor Mack photo)

Just Posted

Wrangle the Chute returns to Kicking Horse

Wrangle the Chute will be returning to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort from… Continue reading

Kicking Horse Update Friday January 17

Kicking Horse reports 10 cm of snow in the last 24 hours,with… Continue reading

Highway Update Friday January 17

On Highway 1, watch for slippery sections between Three Valley Avalanche Gate… Continue reading

Golden nominated for Kraft Hockeyville 2020

Nominations close on Feb. 9.

Kicking Horse Update Thursday, January 16

Kicking Horse reports 3cm of snow in the last 24 hours,with snow… Continue reading

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read