The landslide at Big Bar. (B.C. government)

About 56,000 salmon now past Big Bar landslide

Crews have been trying to find a way to get the fish upstream since the slide was discovered in June

About 56,000 fish have made it past a disastrous landslide in the Fraser River as crews continue to work to clear debris and find other ways to transport salmon to their spawning grounds.

The slide near Big Bar in the Interior was found in late June and federal, provincial and First Nations officials have been working to reduce the harm to the river’s significant salmon runs, at a shared cost of $6 million so far.

Michael Crowe of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 12,000 salmon made it upstream through channels created by rock manipulation and blasting, while 44,000 have been transported by helicopter.

Crowe, who is the environmental unit leader for the slide response team, says the majority of the salmon moved by air are sockeye, while the remainder are chinook and only a handful are pink and coho.

He says muddy water and fish movement make it difficult to estimate how many salmon are trapped downstream from the slide, but government officials have previously said millions typically arrive at this time of year.

Crowe adds the work to clear rock is dynamic and crews are also installing a fish ladder and exploring opportunities to move salmon by truck following efforts to improve what was a “very rough road” in the remote area.

RELATED: Officials consider building road to transport fish around Big Bar slide

“Nothing is off the table unless it’s determined as not being feasible. We are looking at any and all options,” he told a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Crews are radio-tagging fish regularly and so far, 276 sockeye, 162 chinook and five pink salmon have been tagged. While 17 radio-tagged chinook have made it through the slide on their own, no tagged sockeye have passed through, Crowe says.

He says the work to create channels is challenging because it’s impossible to plan long-term as moving one rock could trigger other rocks to tumble and settle in an unexpected place.

The narrow opening at the slide site, the intensity of the water flow and weather conditions have all affected operations, says Kevin Skrepnek, the lead for the joint information centre that has been set up in Lillooet.

Nearly 180 personnel are working “tirelessly” to help the salmon, assisted by four helicopters, numerous boats, dozens of ground vehicles and heavy equipment, he says.

First Nations voices, perspectives and protocols have been embedded in the unified response to the landslide, says Dianne Garner, First Nations incident commander with the response team.

“Salmon have been at the heart of the First Nations culture for time immemorial and have been and must be at the heart of the response,” she says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Three people wanted on warrants

Terrace RCMP asking for public’s help

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

Most Read