Re: Whistler Winter Olympics, The Big Flush
Brackendale is famous as a world-class birding destination because thousands of American bald eagles congregate here in the winter. The eagles come from Montana as well as Washington, Oregon, Alaska and B.C. coastal regions to feed on spawned-out salmon. With up to 350,000 chum salmon arriving in November, the Squamish River system is one of the few mid-winter spawning rivers on the west coast. Salmon need clean water.
The Whistler sewage disposal system, which drains into this river system, is barely adequate for the current population. It is surely inadequate for the massive influx of additional people attending the Olympic Games. What specific plans are being made to ensure that those of us downstream (the salmon, the eagles and the people) wont be experiencing the Big Flush during the 2010 Winter Olympics?
Judging from the number of people peering into the water these days at the bottom of Lorimer Road, the Whistler public seems to know theres something fishy and unique going on this season. Indeed, a quick glance into the River of Golden Dreams reveals that our kokanee salmon appear to be having an exceptionally successful year! Kokanee have recently been spotted in Crabapple Creek as well, between the River of Golden Dreams and the highway.
With such a strong population of spawners currently using Whistlers streams, we ask that everyone make an extra effort to keep themselves, their dogs, and canoes out of the water.
The spawning kokanee bury their eggs in redds (underwater nests in gravel), where the eggs will incubate until late next spring. These eggs are extremely susceptible to suspended sediment in streams; something that is easily created when dogs or people walk in the water.
The re-appearance of kokanee salmon in Whistlers streams is monumental, and provides an excellent opportunity to learn about and gain respect for the complex bio-diversity these water systems support.
If the local community is able to limit their impact on this years spawning run, we may be taking the first steps to re-establishing a thriving population of kokanee for future generations to see. The fisheries technicians would like to thank all those who have been the eyes and ears of the River of Golden Dreams this past month, and they encourage everyone to continue doing so.
Lisa Helmer and Veronica Sommerville
Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group
B.C. Rivers Day, September 30, 2001
Thousands of British Columbians celebrate B.C. Rivers Day on the last Sunday in September each year, making it Canada's largest river appreciation event. The event has grown exponentially over the past 20 years as a result of British Columbians' growing concern for the state of local waterways. With Rivers Day rapidly approaching, it seems like a timely opportunity to describe what's happening in our own backyard.