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Fish-friendly flood infrastructure in Lower Fraser River protects communities, salmon

December 14, 2023 at 4:17 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The governments of B.C. and Canada are taking action to improve flood resilience for communities and support salmon runs in the Lower Fraser River area, helping protect homes and wild salmon.

“As the impacts of climate change continue to threaten communities and the health of B.C.’s watersheds, it is more important than ever that we act now to both prevent flooding and support wild salmon runs,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship and Minister Responsible for Fisheries. “The Resilient Waters project will benefit local communities, B.C. fisheries and the incredible diversity of fish, in particular wild salmon, that call the Lower Fraser River region home.”

The Lower Fraser River and its tributaries are home to the largest collection of salmon runs in the world, supporting local communities and B.C. fisheries. But the watershed faces significant challenges, including outdated flood-control infrastructure that blocks vital migration routes for salmon.

The B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF) will provide $3.6 million to support the Resilient Waters project. The Resilient Waters project is a collaborative effort led by MakeWay Charitable Society and involves partnerships with government agencies, Indigenous communities, non-profit organizations and research institutions, working together to address critical issues facing the salmon populations in the Lower Fraser Watershed.

The goal of the project is to restore connections to more than 1,500 kilometres of wild salmon habitat in the Fraser Valley by replacing 156 aging flood-control structures, such as pump stations, flood boxes and dikes, while advancing best practices in fish-friendly flood infrastructure to protect communities.

“With extreme environmental events on the rise and salmon populations in decline, the time to take action is now. Through the joint federal-provincial BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, we’re investing in projects in the Coquitlam area that will work to improve flood-control infrastructure and habitat restoration,” said Diane Lebouthillier, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “With support from our Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, which funds and co-ordinates efforts to stem the decline of salmon populations, these projects will protect communities and fish habitats from floods while giving salmon a better chance to thrive in the critical waters of the Fraser River.”

The Resilient Waters project will also provide:

  • 7.5 hectares of high-quality juvenile coho and chinook rearing habitat within an existing wildlife management area;
  • a research project to better understand the effects of pumps on salmon; and
  • a post-restoration monitoring program to assess the success of sites where flood infrastructure has been restored for fish passage.

Quotes:

Fin Donnelly, Parliamentary Secretary for Watershed Restoration

“The Resilient Waters project demonstrates British Columbians, communities, First Nations and our governments’ commitment to securing B.C.’s watersheds and promoting community resilience. It will serve to enhance the health of our watersheds and fortify our communities, wild salmon populations and ecosystems against climate and environmental challenges. This BCSRIF investment underscores the importance of innovative practices and highlights our dedication to creating a legacy of thriving watershed ecosystems for generations to come.”

Dan Straker, Resilient Waters project manager, MakeWay Charitable Society –

“MakeWay and the Resilient Waters project are very excited to continue our work on solutions that improve flood resilience for communities and for salmon in the Lower Mainland. BCSRIF has supported our work since the beginning and we are now seeing real change on the ground.”

Lina Azeez, habitats program director, Watershed Watch Salmon Society –

“Watershed Watch Salmon Society applauds our federal and provincial governments for stepping up to support this important work to restore our salmon runs and improve flood control. With more than 156 outdated flood-control structures in the Lower Fraser impacting fish and fish habitat, there is still plenty more to do. These projects show how we can work together to put solutions in place that protect our communities, while also supporting the needs of B.C.’s wild salmon.”

Learn More:

For more information about BCSRIF, visit: https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/initiatives/fish-fund-bc-fonds-peche-cb/index-eng.html

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