Landslide in northwestern BC threatens up to 100,000 spawning salmon – Vernon Morning Star

A landslide on the banks of the Extor River near Prince Rupert threatens the future of up to 100,000 spawning fish.

“Essentially, the entire flank of the mountain has collapsed into the upper reaches of the river Exstol, and nearly half of the river valley has undergone a massive landslide, meaning the entire upper part of the river valley has been removed.” said Greg Knox, executive director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, on Sept. 20.

Located 35 kilometers southeast of Prince Rupert, the Exstall River joins the Skeena River just before reaching the sea.

Stan Walker, who works for the Canadian Fisheries and Ocean Service (DFO), captured footage of the landslide posted on the Skeenawild Conservation Trust Facebook page.

Walker regularly flies over the Lower Skeena River and its tributaries in the fall to count salmon, and he was the one who discovered the slide, Knox said.

The distance and lack of people make it difficult to determine when the slide occurred, but it appears to be a natural occurrence, a DFO spokesman said in an email. . Northern view. The slide was first seen on September 12th.

There is a sizeable population of coho salmon that returns to the upper Extor River each year to spawn. There are also chum salmon, chinook salmon, steelhead, other trout and char, Knox said.

Following landslides, silt and sediment are washed upriver and are particularly detrimental because many of the fish have already spawned or are about to spawn.

When the debris sinks onto the eggs, it blocks the water and prevents oxygen from reaching the eggs during the winter, suffocating them.

More than 10,000, possibly more than 100,000 fish were likely affected by the slide, Knox said.

He said there is a sizeable population of salmon that utilizes the river system, with more than 100,000 fish spawning there in an average year.

At this time, there is not much you can do to mitigate the potential damage.

“We’re really just assessing the potential impact, but perhaps longer-term monitoring is needed to see how fish populations adapt over time. It could take years, even decades, to stabilize, and in the future the salmon will adapt.

“The bright spot is that there are several important tributaries with high salmon populations in the Lower Extor,” Knox said. “So I hope they are not affected.”

In addition to the impact on fish, wildlife that lived in the upper part of the valley would have been killed during the landslide, he added.

DFO said black press media They are currently gathering information and assessing impacts, and additional monitoring is expected in the coming weeks to assess potential impacts on salmon habitat and migration.

Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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Landslide in northwestern BC threatens up to 100,000 spawning salmon – Vernon Morning Star

Source link Landslide in northwestern BC threatens up to 100,000 spawning salmon – Vernon Morning Star

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