Broad Scale Efforts Underway to Restore Fish Passage Across B.C.

An elevated stream culvert may mean nothing more than simple road maintenance to us. But to a Pacific salmon desperately trying to swim upriver to their native spawning beds, it’s often a dead stop to their trip home.

There are 170,000 road crossings at streams containing fish habitat in B.C.. Of these, about 92,000 are culverts that block fish passage. These need to be repaired.

But for several B.C. streams, this is no longer true. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is pleased to announce the removal of multiple barriers to fish passage in B.C.

“Many Pacific salmon and trout populations are in dire straits. By removing some of the barriers to migration and restoring connections to historical habitats these species have a better chance of survival. Our cultures, economies and ecosystems depend on the sustainability of wild fish stocks and it is our shared responsibility to scale up efforts to fix past harm.”
~Nicolas Lapointe, CWF Senior Conservation Biologist Freshwater Ecology

We are working with diverse partners to restore access to critical spawning and rearing habitats for aquatic species at risk, including Pacific salmon, Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Steelhead.

There are currently eight projects nearing completion and an additional 10 projects in the review stage. The projects are spread across the province including Vancouver Island, the coastal mainland, the Fraser River watershed and the Columbia basin.

Each location has a customized solution. In some cases, clearspan bridges replace closed-bottom or raised culverts. In other cases, fish ladders are the best solution.

Several projects are funded under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which is a 70 per cent federal, 30 per cent provincial cost-shared program. Additional projects are supported by the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk.

Newly constructed channel on the Burman River Project.

The projects repair historical harm to salmon and trout habitat from past construction of roads and railways across spawning and rearing streams. Many of these barriers were created prior to legislation protecting fish habitats. Local conservation organizations and provincial government agencies are among those involved in the restorations.

The species populations supported by this project include Sockeye Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Pink Salmon as well as Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead and Bull Trout. However, when these fish are helped, many other species of wildlife benefit, from bears to eagles, otters to orcas.

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This project is made possible in part by funding provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of BC and through the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.