Stream Keepers

During the month of June we have salvaged close to 6,000 fry from the lower reaches of Bonnel Creek as flows became reduced and pools isolated. This year we have gone back to our original program of capture using dip nets instead of our pole seines for the small pools. The main reason was stress on the fish from the thrashing around involved with the pole seines. With the dip nets we can gently capture the fry with the least amount of stress, this ensures a greater survival rate and less chance of crushing or otherwise injuring the small fry during capture. We are using a new release site on the upper Bonnel where flows remain for the long summer months. This site has the added advantage of having a road though rough which allows us to back the truck right alongside the stream making the release of the fry less stressful as all we have to do is empty the tank directly into the stream.

It is interesting to watch the released fry as they swim around in there new summer habitat in what appears to be a re-grouping into there family units as they swim around then one or two will peel off and swim over to another group then a few more and it seems they tend to re-group before swimming off to find there own space in the stream.

At least it seems that way and it is nice to think that they do find their siblings to continue their journey to adulthood.

We often hear the line that fish are not great thinkers and rely more on instinct than thought, “ there brain is smaller than a pea” “we are way smarter than fish” well yes and no, ask any fly fisherman who has stalked the river bank trying to catch an illusive Steelhead.

Send off a bunch of humans into thousands of square kilometres of wilderness and see how many can find there way home using only there instincts.

Along with the Wild Salmon fry we also take all other fish present within the drying habitat, as one species is as important as another for the survival of all.

Stream Keeping is more than Salmon [in our case wild] it is about all creatures great and small that inhabit the watersheds, from wild fish to the majestic Elk [of which we do get a occasional glimpse on our trips into the forest].

All flora and fauna has the same rights to be allowed to live as best as they can in the ever reducing habitat left in the wild.

A study released recently about how the benefits of trees contribute to the overall health of fish within lakes and streams from not only the amount of bugs that drop into the water also the amount of leaf debris that enters the system releasing all that energy contained in the leaf as it decays feeding all kinds of life within the ecosystem.

We are all aware by now of the nutrients that Salmon take back into the watershed and in the aforementioned case now we know how the forest gives back to fish.

Present regulations regarding setbacks alongside streams and lakes is the bare minimum set years ago when forestry ruled the day and any loss of cutting ability was fiercely contested by the logging companies resulting in the bare minimum protection around the streams and lakes.

Many years ago there was a big push to remove Alder trees from alongside streams and replant with conifers. Girdling and falling these important trees was promoted due mainly to guidelines being followed came from the logging industry and Alder was not a economical species so was and is still considered by some to be a weed tree.

You cut down mature trees 60 feet plus and replace them with 1 foot conifer plugs in a vain attempt to replace the Alder canopy with conifer’s, yes in another 50 to 100 years you might have some shade back on the stream, in the meantime we loose all that nutrient load from bugs and leaf drop for the unforeseen future. I read many years ago that from San Francisco north you had to go all the way to Bond Sound to find a watershed that had not been logged.

Since then it too was logged and every other watershed all the way to Alaska, yes even the so called great Bear rain forest is being heli logged as I write this taking the last stands from the few remaining intact watersheds, so much for conservation.

The big question I seem to be asked these days is what do I think will be the result of Alberta bitumen being shipped to the coast. Pipeline aside [ruptures etc into watersheds] the question most ask is what impacts will tanker traffic have on the coast.

My first answer usually is nothing as long as there is no accident, now having said that we all know accidents happen to the most safety conscious of us all, that is why they are called accidents. [ the mantra of Every accident is preventable duh that’s why they call them accidents]

Yes you can reduce the risk and buy TV ads that will if shown long enough become truth to the multitudes who are so busy with there day to day lives they believe that the companies would not lie to them about the potential risks.

Now flash back not too long ago when Alaska developed the Prudhoe Bay oil fields with the consequences of more tanker traffic navigating the coast of Alaska with its many channels and islands. “Oh we are so good at this by now with double hulled tankers we have virtually eliminated the risk of a major spill” “ Besides that we have the most sophisticated spill response equipment and teams, we can clean it up no problem” as the kids say “NOT”, “WHOOPS” anyone remember Exxon Valdez March 24 1989 260,000 to 750,000 barrels of oil, so much they have no idea how much escaped that they give such a wide variation in amounts which still to this day continues to pollute the environments over 1300 miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of Ocean. 25 years on and they estimate as much as 20,000 gallons of crude oil still remains on beaches and rocks etc around Prince William Sound. That was crude a substance that floats around on the tide, our tankers will be carrying Bitumen a heavy oil which will sink to the bottom and be virtually impossible to clean up along with various chemical solvents used to thin the oil so it can be pumped through the pipes.

So the long answer is that all life on the coast will suffer in the long run if or should I say when we have a grounding and the subsequent spill.

So if you have the chance to support the no pipeline/ tanker traffic campaign then I would suggest you voice your concerns any way you can over the next few years and what ever do not believe the brain washing adverts on TV. After all who can remember the forest ads that told us that forests were forever and anyone who is not blind can see how the whole coast has been deforested to the point that whole ecosystems have and are collapsing as the forest vanishes into the pockets of the corporations just like the oil revenue will with very little benefit to the population. After all we are not getting cheap fuel out of the oil sands for our own use, no we are giving it away to the self same corporations who are faceless, one phrase used to describe the corporations I came across in southern Mexico was Vampires sucking the very life out of the land leaving nothing but pollution and environmental destruction as they laugh all the way to the bank at our collective stupidity for allowing it to happen so remember next year at election time and vote for your kids and there kids future. As one erudite fellow said “ Governments are the shadow corporations cast over the populace.

 

Moderators Note: This article is somewhat past its due-date as the Log.ca did not publish in July. However, I would hate to see it go to waste!

 

 

 

Posted in August 2014, Streamkeepers
One comment on “Stream Keepers
  1. John Dunn says:

    Update on Fry Salvage, close to 20,000 fry moved to year round wetted habitat by August 5th. News alert for anyone who did not get any fresh Sockeye from Port Alberni commercial, the Fraser River fish are already in the river and lots more are expected to pour down the coast over the next weeks so keep an eye open as I am sure some local commercial fishers will have signs up around the mid Island area. Fresh Sockeye baked on a soaked Cedar board on the barbecue Yummy.

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