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Ashlu Creek on ORC’s list of top-10 endangered rivers



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He believes it’s misleading to put the Ashlu on a list of endangered rivers when nothing has been done yet past the planning stage and Ledcor does not plan to endanger the river if the project goes ahead – the science is still out on the impact of IPP’s.

"How can a plan endanger a river?" asked Boychuk.

Ledcor says the company will continue to meet with user groups and First Nations to work out solutions to issues.

The Nicola and Coldwater Rivers top the Most Endangered List this year. Both are located near the communities of Merritt and Spences Bridge, where water extraction for farming and ranching is endangering the Steelhead and Coho salmon stocks according to the ORC.

The Englishman River and other Steelhead streams in the Georgia Basin was second on the list for habitat loss due to urbanization, water extraction, water contamination and the destablization of steep banks.

Number three is the Okanagan River, including the upper and middle Vernon Creek headwaters. The reasons given are channelization, water extraction, urban encroachment, riparian habitat loss and the building of dams and weirs.

The Taku River is recognized as B.C.’s most endangered wilderness river because of a proposed mine and access road development.

Tied for fifth were the Fraser River and Upper Goat River, and all the creeks, sloughs and aquifers in the Fraser Valley farming belt. The former is endangered by rapid urbanization, urban run-off, loss of riparian habitat, industrial pollution, proposed gravel extraction in the lower mainstem and logging in the upper headwaters. The latter is contaminated by fertilizers, chemicals and poor management of farm waste and manure.

Ashlu Creek was ranked seventh on the list.

The Coquitlam River was eighth as a result of sediment loads from gravel mining, rapid urbanization and urban run-off.

In ninth place was the Kettle River, which was also new to the list as a result of a planned IPP project. According to the ORC, the Kettle River is crucial habitat for the speckled dace, a small fish that is currently red-listed in B.C. as an endangered species.

Last on the list is the Salmon River in Langley, which suffers from manure contamination, falling water tables, excessive water extraction, development and proposed dredging.

"The problems we’ve outlined illustrate that you cannot separate the health of our fish stocks from the health of our rivers," said Angelo. "They are completely interdependent. And within any given watershed, if river habitat is destroyed or significantly damaged we’ll lose any chance we may have to protect or rebuild fish stocks.