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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley Nordic Club hosting Teck Kootenay Cup races 5 and 6 in February

The races will take place on February 8 and 9, 2020.

Kimberley couple rescued by Fernie Search and Rescue

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated twice this past weekend to… Continue reading

Jared du Toit qualifies for 2020 PGA Tour Latinoamérica

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit won the PGA Tour Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Mexico… Continue reading

Friday fatality at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Kimberley Dynamiters win two overtime games on weekend

The Kimberley Dynamiters were celebrating as though they had won, and the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Most Read