Many of us think of wild salmon living in remote rivers and the ocean, but these remarkable fish might swim closer to your home than you may think. Right now, thousands of tiny salmon are making their journey to the ocean, through small tributaries and streams, often within a stone’s throw from some sort of human infrastructure.
Chum Salmon in Stoney Creek, Burnaby BC.
Photographer Fernando Lessa has spent the past 3 years on the Urban Salmon Project, documenting wild salmon in urban areas, all across Metro Vancouver and just published a book.
Here in B.C. we’ve built our roads and houses right next to salmon habitat, and often we don’t even know they’re there. Unfortunately, this often means their habitat ends up contaminated or completely destroyed.
Restoring these damaged habitats is a fundamental part of rebuilding our struggling wild salmon populations, and is a core part of our Connected Waters campaign in the Fraser Valley.
Streams in areas with a lot of residential or agricultural development have typically lost the plants and trees that provide shade, contributing to higher water temperatures and less natural debris entering the waterway. Fallen trees provide refuge for small fish and attract insects the fish eat. By planting indigenous species in the riparian zone, we can vastly improve the quality of the habitat for fish.
Watershed Watch is working on restoration sites on the Katzie Slough where we are working with a local farmer to restore a section of stream bank. At the restoration site, we perform ongoing maintenance work, including invasive plant pulls, to ensure the new plants thrive.
We also collect water quality data, before and after our restoration work, in order to demonstrate the improvements in water quality (measuring stream temperatures and oxygen in the water).
This work is important not just for Katzie Slough, but it is helping to catalyze similar restoration efforts throughout the lower Fraser watershed.
The fieldwork is led by Meghan Rooney and she needs help. Some of the opportunities to get involved this summer include:
- invasive species pulls and garbage clean-ups at the Katzie Slough restoration site. The next event is May 25, 2019. Contact Meghan for more information.
- assisting with data collection at 120 waterways in the lower Fraser Valley. This involves helping record water quality data and doing scientific fish collection. Contact Meghan for more information.
- riparian plantings at our restoration site on the Katzie Slough in August and September, as well as watering and other maintenance work throughout the summer.
- joining canoe tours and bike tours, being organized for August and September
We could use your help! If you live in Vancouver or the lower mainland and are interested in volunteering to help us collect water quality data and maintain our restoration sites, sign up here or contact Meghan for more information.