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River management

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Strain of multiple uses showing on River of Golden Dreams

About 10,000 boats travel the River of Golden Dreams each year, and it’s only getting more and popular as a day trip.

That is part of the reason for the adoption of several memoranda of understanding between various stakeholders who use and protect the river and its environment.

"The river supports many uses," said Whistler fish technician Lisa Helmer.

"There is recreation but there is also fisheries and the surrounding environment. So what we are trying to do is look at how we can manage all those things."

The memoranda laid out in the River of Golden Dreams Recreation Management Strategy Operations Plan released this week covers:

• when and how the river can be used if it has a very high water level, a very low water level, or fish are spawning;

• the removal of large wood debris and riparian vegetation;

• the removal of wetland vegetation;

• the removal of beaver dams;

• the use of new signs to keep users informed about river habitat and protection.

Helmer said the strategy is the culmination of months of work by all the stakeholders and is based on their input.

The stakeholders are the Resort Municipality of Whistler Stewardship Department, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, B.C. Ministry if Water, Land & Air Protection, Whistler Eco Tours, Whistler Outdoor Experience, Whistler Backroads and Wild Willies.

The memoranda of understandings in the management plan were developed to address specific concerns.

For example the removal of large woody debris can affect fish and wildlife habitat.

Some boaters may be tempted to move it to make their travels easier, but it can have a lasting effect.

That debris can put nutrients into the water. It also offers shelter from predators and the hot sun. Submerged logs can provide in-stream resting and holding areas, and shore up riverbanks.

Generally it has been agreed that this type of debris, beaver dams, and wetland foliage cannot be removed without approval. If approved for removal the recreation operator must pay for it and it must be done in the presence of resort and/ or ministry officials.

Local canoe companies are already working with the strategy and will no longer be boating on the river between Alta Lake and the weir near Tapley’s corner.

That’s due to low water levels and the imminent arrival of Kokanee salmon to the area near the Valley Trail bridge at the bottom of Lorimer Road.

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