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

A volunteer diver takes a breath during an underwater clean up of Kootenay Lake in Nelson on Oct. 17. Photo: Mike Sagal
Volunteer divers clean up Nelson shore

A team hauled trash out from Kootenay Lake

Nelson City Council discussed COVID-19’s effect on the city at its Oct. 13 meeting. Video screen capture: City of Nelson
Nelson council discusses local business effects of pandemic so far

Report includes results of a summer business survey

LVR Drama student Emerald Lockhart adjusts his costume for a dress rehearsal. Students will perform theatre pieces in Nelson backyards, distanced but not wearing masks. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Live theatre comes to your Nelson backyard

LVR senior drama class will perform short pieces for households

Nelson’s Flight Corporal Willow Kikosewin-Holden has kept her training during the lockdown. Photo: Submitted
Nelson air cadet completes summer program

Flight Corporal Willow Kikosewin-Holden is moving up in aviation

South Nelson Elementary students added several new varieties of plants to the school grounds with the help of KinSeed Ecologies. Photo: Submitted
South Nelson students get digging

The school added several new varieties of plants to its grounds with the help of KinSeed Ecologies

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read