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Federal funding helping to rehabilitate local fish habitats
The West Vancouver Streamkeepers had the chance to show off their new rearing pond at Memorial Park last week when Gail Shea, minister of fisheries and oceans, stopped by to see the project that could serve as a model for other B.C. communities.
The Centennial Rearing Pond opened in April and is now home to around 200 coho fry and three dozen cut throat trout, as well as aquatic insects that serve as food for the young fish. The pond was paid for in part by funds through the federal government to the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
Small fish travelling through urban areas like West Van can have a difficult time making it to the ocean because of changes to their habitat, said John Barker, president of the West Van Streamkeepers.
“The rearing pond is taking water out of the creek through an intake pipe, flowing it through a tranquil area and then water flows back into the creek. The water flows exactly the same in the summer and the winter — there is a constant flow, large woody debris which give the fish protection and they get a fresh source of water year round.”
Accompanied by John Weston, MP for West Van-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, at Centennial Rearing Pond, Minister Shea announced federal funding of $142,000 to rehabilitate two recreational fish habitats in the Squamish area.
The Evans Creek Re-Watering Project, initiated by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, includes construction of a new river intake system that will provide sustained flow to four kilometres of the channel and improve spawning and rearing opportunities in the channel.
The Tiampo Coho Restoration Project led by the Squamish River Watershed Society includes the creation of a cool-water refuge pond for summer coho rearing habitat. It will result in improved spawning habitat for coho and other salmon and trout species and, over the long-term, an improved forest canopy adjacent the channel.
Funding was made available through the newly established Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program.
Like Centennial Rearing Pond, these two projects will increase the number of fish in the Straight of Georgia.
The pond creates a side channel for McDonald Creek, the fourth largest watershed in West Vancouver, which starts in Cypress Provincial Park and spills into Burrard Inlet near 19th Street and the Seawall. It is classified as endangered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada because of concrete dams and culverts along its route and other effects of urbanization.
“Coho salmon live three years and the first year they come out of the gravel is spent in fresh water,” said Barker. After time spent in the rearing pond, they will travel out to sea as smolt and come back as adults two years later.