Steelhead in the News

Fertilizers boost declining B.C. fish populations

VANCOUVER - Young steelhead and salmon grew dramatically in streams seeded with sacks of slow-release fertilizer, a method that shows real promise to help rebuild collapsed spawning populations, according to B.C. biologists. The method has proven effective at improving steelhead growth and survival in Vancouver Island streams in programs dating back to 1989.

Steelhead fry in treated areas are typically about 95-per-cent larger than those in untreated streams, while coho fry are about 40-per-cent bigger. Fish counts in the Keogh River found a 50-per-cent increase in the number of coho that survived the freshwater stage of life.

Read full article on the Vancouver Sun website:

Getting the rearing ponds back into action

Telkwa Rearing Ponds

The Northern branch of the Steelhead Society of B.C. spent a couple of cool afternoons working on the Telkwa Coho ponds in mid-November, one of the projects the group has decided to work on this year.

On Nov. 13 and 14 a group of seven people each day went to the ponds, located at the side of the Telkwa River, to set traps to see what state the ponds were in and to tidy the place up a bit.

On Sunday the group began a clean-up to prepare for more work in the spring.

The weekend was headed up by Jessea Grice, the chair for the Northern branch of the society.

When the traps were pulled on the Sunday the group discovered that the ponds were not in use as they found no fish or fry.

Group member Alison Smith said that they spent Sunday putting back up fencing that had come down and got the pond’s culvert working again.

“It was a work bee weekend,” she said, adding that they had to pull a fair bit of garbage from the area, from paint bottles to metal scraps.

Read the full story:

More photos from the day:

Coho Ponds 1

Coho Ponds 2

Coho Ponds 3

Coho Ponds 4

Coho Ponds 5

Coho Ponds 6

Coho Ponds 7

Coho Ponds 8

Coho Ponds 9

Coho Ponds 10

Coho Ponds 11

Kokish River Steelhead Urgently Need Your Help With a Letter

British Columbia's Kokish River Steelhead need your help to stop a large scale IPP development on the East Coast of Vancouver Island near Telegraph Cove.

This project will divert 10km of salmon habitat into a intake pipe, and a further 17 surrounding streams would be impacted by its construction and operations.

We have just until November 18th to submit letters to the Environmental Assessment Office, jump right to the form to leave a comment or learn more below.

Let's break down the following map, submitted by Brookfield Power:

Kokish IPP Map

Note the area that shows "intake location"; now look for the words above it that say "approximate penstock route".

The area in between these two points is a summer run steelhead over wintering ground, and soon to be re-directed into a pipe, for 10km down to almost the point where the river enters telegraph cove.

Here is an area right in between these two points:

Those grey shadows you see are summer run steelhead.

Steelhead can't write letters but you can.

Please take 5 minutes out of your day to write your comments about this project to the Environmental Assessment Office, the deadline for public comment is November 18th 2010.

Leave your comment here:

February 6, 2004 The Comox Valley Echo, "Restoring the Puntledge"

Restoring the Puntledge
Larry Peterson - Puntledge River Restoration Committee

After decades of closure, the Puntledge River was open to sport fishing for the third year in a row. The fishery closed at the end of last month, but during the season, which started October 1, there were 12 to 30 cars at the Condensory Bridge every day.

One day in October, four motorhomes, each carrying two Italian fishers, found their way to the Puntledge. One day last month, four Japanese visitors roamed its banks.

The abundance of fish and the generous but reasonable opportunities to retain coho, chum and Chinook were strokes of good fortune and good management.

So how has all this come about?

Many factors and many people played have played roles. First, about six years ago, the Courtenay Fish and Game Club, the local chapter of the Steelhead Society and other concerned citizens staged a large rally to insist on a predator control program for seals in the lower river. These seals were taking up semi-permanent residency in the inter-tidal zone and intercepting adult spawners on their way up-river. More importantly, the seals were feasting on young, downstream migrants on their way out to sea. Over half of all Puntledge River smolt production was being intercepted and consumed.

Secondly, the Puntledge River Restoration Committee reformed and began lobbying politicians, provincial and federal fisheries and BC Hydro to initiate and carry out a revitalization program which would see stepped-up fish production so there would be enough bodies out there to prejudice the odds towards survival instead of against it.

The second half of the equation was habitat improvement so that fish had abundant areas to spawn and rear and suitable water flows to guarantee efficiency of spawning and rearing.

Over the past five years, the Puntledge River Hatchery staff have been pumping out coho, Chinook, pinks and chums to the point that salmon production has almost returned to historical levels.

BC Hydro has paid for and worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for side-channel construction and gravel placement at such places as Bull Island (a semi-natural, $200,000 project just upstream of Stotan Falls), the power-line area and the Courtenay game side-channel.

Altogether, about $227,000 has been spent on restoration.

BC Hydro has guaranteed flows which are favorable for fish and provincial fisheries has both a cutthroat and steelhead program in their early stages. There is a spirit of cooperation which is showing obvious positive results.

There is also another part to the effort. Ocean survival in the past four years has been excellent with subsiding of El Nino and the rich upwellings of nutrients in the North pacific.The impact on salmon species has been pronounced and positive. Whether conditions are also starting to favor steelhead and cutthroat is still unknown, and all we can do is continued to plan and work and hope. We also need to get an estuary complexing study, still in the planning stages, under way.

We are not there yet. Much work and good fortune are still needed, but the Puntledge is on its way to once again becoming a world-class river.

Meanwhile, funding applications for monitoring Bull Island and further restoration on other parts of the Puntledge have been submitted to BC Hydro’s Bridge Coastal Program.

The largest project being considered is restoration of spawning habitat for summer-run Chinook downstream of Comox Lake Dam.

Courtesy of The Comox Valley Echo – Dec 16, 2003

September 15, 1999 Campbell River Mirror, "Society takes stock of success"

Society Takes Stock of Success

Steelhead Society
counts FRBC deal as measure of respect

Campbell River Mirror Wednesday
September 15, 1999

The Steelhead Society isn't just an advocacy organization anymore, it has proved highly successful as restorer of fish habitat in recent years.

The Society has become so successful it is the only non-forest tenure holder to win a multi-year contract with Forest Renewal BC for watershed restoration work.

FRBC representative Ron Bronstein announced details of its 1999-2000 funding Friday. The Steelhead Society Habitat Restoration Corporation was on the list with an $895,500 multi year contract.

Saturday Society representatives were in town to show off just how successful with public tours of projects in the Campbell River Forest District.

"I feel pretty proud about that," said Dave Haddon, a director of the Society's Campbell River chapter.

He said many groups are involved in maintaining and restoring salmon stocks, but the Steelhead Society has evidence to make the case it is tops among them.

"Analysis shows the Steelhead Society with the Habitat Restoration Corporation, is far and away the number one group in B.C.," Haddon said. "We've done more than any other non-profit group in the province."

He said creation of the corporation has been a radical change for the Society to absorb over the last five years.

Haddon credited current Steelhead Society president Dan Burns with the idea to create the Society's Habitat Restoration Corporation. He said the Society has always spoken eloquently in advocating for the fisheries resource.

It was Burns, however who had the foresight to create the non-profit company that gets directly involved in habitat restoration. And it is that corporation which is left standing as the only non-profit group with an agreement with FRBC.

Doug McCorquodale, operations manager for the corporation, said they are spending about $300,000 on projects in the district this year. Their projects range from playing small roles in improving the Raven and Elk Falls spawning channels on the Campbell River to constructing a ground water channel on Big Tree Creek to forest restoration along its banks.

McCorquodale said McMillan Bloedel is its partner in the latter projects. They aim for partnerships, he said, because it is a way of "levering" more dollars to the task.

Between partners the Corporation is involved in projects totaling $600,000 in work.

Bronstein said the Steelhead Society's Habitat Restoration Corporation is one of six multi-gear agreement holders doing works in the Campbell River Forest District.

MacMillan Bloedel is doing the most work it is spending $3.34 million on either watershead, enhanced silviculture or forest inventory work . Western Forest Products has $3.33 million in work under way, Interfor has $1.33 million, Timberwest $1.1 million and Canfor $175,000 of their funds committed to the district.