Friday October 21, 2022

Columbia Valley Pioneer

What if the only road and way you could travel home safely was blocked and it remained this way for years? This has been a concern for fish needing to pass through a damaged culvert on Johnston Road since 2017. 

There have been ongoing concerns regarding this culvert from community members like Ben Mitchell-Banks, conservationist and manager of the Abel Creek Restoration Project with the Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club. Earlier this year in April the gun club was awarded the B.C. Wildlife Federation Roderick Haig-Brown Conservation Award which is bestowed annually to recognize a conservation project that benefits fish, wildlife, or a natural habitat. It was recognized for its habitat restoration work that has been underway on Abel Creek since 2014. Part of the restoration work the club was awarded for included the removal in August of 2015 of the dam on Abel Creek that was located adjacent to Walker and Sandwell Road about 70 metres downstream of where it goes under Westside Road. The gun club received some grant monies for their Abel Creek project, but also contributed a lot of their own funds and labour. 

“Like many salmon habitats, Abel Creek has been devastated by human development. The entire lower section has been channelized due to the placing of the two roads, above and below Westside Road. Channelization prevents the stream from forming a riffle pool structure and basically creates a fast-flowing ditch with larger cobble,” said Mitchell-Banks. “The larger stone does not provide spawning habitat for kokanee salmon, rainbow trout or westslope cutthroat trout. The dam below Westside Road effectively prevented fish from reaching almost all their spawning habitat since about 1910 or so.”

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