LETTER: Problems existed before Big Bar slide

As a response to the letter by Mel Arnold in the Jan. 9 issue of the 100 Mile Free Press.

Mr.Arnold,

I would like to point out a few concerns I have with your letter and points.

Firstly, your statement “The extinction of Pacific salmon stocks is no longer a mere projection or hypothesis,” is, in my opinion, quite uneducated. Streams (Chilako River) in the Upper Fraser that used to contain 1,000 returning Chinook to spawn have seen less than 15 Chinook return in the past few years (previous to the Big Bar slide). Would the predicted extinction of this run be a “hypothesis” in your mind?

Secondly, “Indigenous communities depend on Pacific salmon to meet their food, social and ceremonial needs, while commercial harvesters and recreational anglers also depend on wild salmon to feed their families and uphold cultural traditions handed down through generations.”

I assume you are not talking about the communities in the Upper Fraser?

Because the First Nations in the upper Fraser see very little FSC harvest due to low returns, not near enough to sustain their people (previous to the Big Bar slide), there is no commercial fishing in the Upper Fraser and recreational fishing in the upper Fraser? Well, that’s a laugh, we have seen one sockeye opening in the last six years, nothing else.

So I assume in your statement that you are advocating for the coastal communities? Not the upper Fraser that has been seeing these populations decline.

Populations that no one cared about until a Chinook closure was announced on the coast.

Lastly, “these salmon are also central to ecosystems, forests and food webs spanning the B.C. coast and rivers that connect ocean to spawning grounds. If Pacific salmon disappear, it is hard to say how orcas, bears and coastal eagles, to name a few species, will adapt or survive. Extinction of any Pacific salmon stock is a domino that we can avert upsetting, so why aren’t we?”

To start on this point, we have eagles in the upper Fraser as well, not just “coastal eagles” want salmon. The bears in the upper Fraser hardly seek out salmon anymore because there are so few (previous to the Big Bar slide) in four years of brood capture SCWA has encountered one black bear and one grizzly. And with the announcement that Upper Fraser Chinook are part of the “Critical Habitat” for SRKWs, what was enacted to safeguard these fish? Nothing.

“Why aren’t we averting this Domino?”

You ask.

I ask, why hasn’t it been averted in the last 20 years?

Although I hate the impact I saw on the salmon population last year due to the Big Bar slide, I thank the slide for waking up the government to the fact that these stocks were already on their hands and knees, crawling towards death.

The Big Bar slide just shot a crawling dying stock, in an already broken knee.

To note, I am not just a complainer. I have spent 200 hours in the last three years on brood capture alone in the upper Fraser, and regularly engage government and staff on these issues. Todd Doherty, MP, Jonathan Wilkinson, and many government staff responsible for the upper Fraser know me, Steve, and Spruce City Wildlife Association very well.

I would be pleased to meet with you to educate you on the reality that a correction of the situation at Big Bar will not “fix” these populations that were COSEWIC Endangered long before a single rock slipped at Big Bar. However, we can agree that a solution must be found for the blockage at Big Bar, but work is underway.

In Conservation,

Dustin J. Snyder

Vice President

Spruce City Wildlife Association

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