Streamkeepers – Feb.11

Over the holidays we were out every day except for Christmas and New Years day being that they were on Saturdays, which is one of our regular days.  Well, over the past month we have mainly been walking the watersheds and observing wildlife and the changing forest.  All the Wild Salmon eggs are tucked nicely into the gravel beds, incubating away as the fresh mountain waters wash over them.  I found some good Oyster Mushrooms growing on old Alder logs along the stream banks, which makes for excellent eating. Hmmm – Wild Smoked Salmon and Wild Oyster mushrooms; stop before they beat down the door at suppertime!

We had a discussion over the past month about the sexual maturity of Salmon and how important it is for the Salmon to reach sexual maturity unhindered. Salmon, in order to achieve their goal of passing on their evolutionary adaptive genes to the next generation, need to be able to complete their life cycle. What this means is selecting their mates as they reach maturity and going through their own courting rituals before spawning and fertilizing. By selecting their own mate this ensures that the survival of the species continues. Science is catching up to nature in the understanding of fish behaviour; no longer are fish just fish. Salmon are able to evolve from generation to generation faster than us humans ensuring their adaptation to their ever-changing habitat from cycle to cycle. Interruption of this process can do untold damage to thousands of years of adaptation, which could result in the loss of priceless genetics if all fish become hybrids. Any gardener out there knows that the same holds true for plants; try saving the seeds of a hybrid, hoping that next year your plants will turn out the same. That is why you must buy new seeds every year to ensure getting the results you want, which is why most serious gardeners try to save their own seeds from what are called heirloom varieties. Last week, at the time of this writing, I heard the most eloquent and informed talk on Salmon that I have ever heard, even from those who purport to know all there is to know of Salmon. Check out the CBC Ideas web site for one of the most enlightening talks by the champion of Salmon Alexandra Morton entitled Saving Salmon; it should hopefully be available as a pod cast soon or for purchase as a CD.

Over the coming months we will be having another stream riparian garbage cleanup, this time in the upper watershed of Knarston Creek adjacent to the recently logged woodlot at the end of the road beyond Normarel rd. [I am reluctant to use its name in print as I have been told by my Salish friends that the current name is considered not p.c. and is actually a derogatory term].

Most of the garbage lining the old logging road has been removed by Gregsons during the logging of the woodlot.  What remains is lying off in the bush and down the bank of the creek.  Again, we have every kind of garbage: old truck bodies, stoves, etc. Luckily, no garbage is in the creek proper. John Gregson has offered any assistance he can in this cleanup. So look out for the cleanup date, which I hope can be arranged for some time in March.

As Stream Keepers, we are also making plans to do some restoration of the heavily eroded banks at the site of the old bridge.  This has been made worse by the traffic from 4x4s and ATVs.  Gregsons has placed rocks and gates to restrict this traffic that has helped to deter them from using the road and crossing the stream. Most importantly, this is a source of water quality for the entire fish habitat moving downstream all the way to the beach and beyond as the fresh water affects the foreshore habitat.

Concerns are being raised about the continuing trend to place riprap along the foreshore, which has far reaching impacts on foreshore health and habitat. The trend is to see all beach erosion as a bad thing, but erosion is a natural process for the foreshore. Throwing riprap around as a panacea results in major disruption of endangered foreshore habitat for all forage fish that use this crucial habitat to spawn in. We lose the foreshore habitat and eventually we lose the Salmon as these forage fish are important food for rearing Salmon fry as they venture out into the Ocean.

Anchoring drift wood logs along the foreshore will control erosion naturally by dissipating the wave energy while allowing for the natural drift of foreshore material along the beach. Some erosion will continue but without the downward scour created by riprap and concrete structures with the resultant loss of beach slope. Imagine going down to the beach one day to sunbath and finding the entire beach rip rapped and no beach slope to lie on.  Imagine finding no low tide beach at all due to its erosion, leaving only a narrow strip of large cobble and boulders.

Hope to see some of you out for the cleanup in March.  The time and date will be in the next (March) issue of The Log.

Eat more seafood and live a healthier life.  My Salish friends have a very good saying: “When the tide is out the table is set”.

Best Fishes, John Dunn

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