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LETTER: One small victory for kokanee salmon

From reader Joanne Siderius

Re: “Friends of Kootenay Lake should read the science” Sept. 22

This letter to the Nelson Star referred to the Shore Spawning Kokanee Habitat Restoration Project, spearheaded by the Friends of Kootenay Lake, as “ill-conceived.” While I could take issue with some of the points made in that letter, perhaps I will let the kokanee salmon themselves respond.

The kokanee salmon shore-spawners have returned and as of Sept. 28 about 90 per cent of the estimated 100 fish are on the new gravel laid out by the Friends of Kootenay Lake (and their funders and supporters).

The shore-spawners have nested in gravel that is often left high and dry as spring water levels are lowered in the lake. The salmon fry often do not make it to Kootenay Lake as they emerge from these stranded gravel nests. On Sept. 9 and 10, clean gravel was dumped into Kootenay Lake at Six Mile to provide spawning habitat. The new gravel has been placed below the old gravel nesting sites. These new sites should be under water next spring. As a result, there may be more kokanee shore-spawner fry emerging from the Six Mile area in the spring of 2021.

It is still early days to declare success for the Shore Spawning Kokanee Habitat Restoration Project. Will kokanee fry emerge from the new gravel next year? Will the gravel remain through the years? All good questions, but right now I think we can relish one small victory on behalf of the kokanee.

Thank you, Friends of Kootenay Lake, for actually doing something for the shore-spawning kokanee salmon.

Joanne Siderius

Nelson