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Horsefly Roundtable: Watershed gets help from Mt. Polley

Report of the regular Meeting held June 19, 2014 at the Horsefly Public Library:

Special guest Joan Sorley from the Cariboo Regional District attended along with Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTC) Fisheries Manager Ernest Kroeker and a good group of regular members and directors.

Outstanding issues from the last meeting were dealt with.  The new outhouse for the campground across the bridge will be done before much more time has passed. At the suggestion of Aaron Higginbottom from the Williams Lake Indian Band it has been decided to include some traditional Secwepemc language on some interpretive signs along the Salmon walk. There will also be a commemorative plaque installed honoring Clarence Hooker who passed away recently. Clarence was a long time worker on the salmon channel and organized our salmon egg races.

Due to the teachers’ picket lines, the Arts on the Fly group feel they may have to cancel this years’ music festival unless they can secure another location, and it was suggested they could use the area along the Salmon channel if DFO gave their approval.  This option is being looked into as time is of the essence.

The strategy to introduce the Agricultural Research and Development Corporation (ARDCorp) environmental farm plan — group plan is being developed. Local agricultural producers will be contacted and invited to participate in an agri-environmental risk assessment. Group plans are more effective at addressing watershed level concerns than individual plans, and participants may be eligible for additional funding incentives.

The Roundtable is looking forward to working with Mount Polley Mining Corp. on a restoration project following completion of their Offset Plan for habitat compensation as part of their commitment under the new Fisheries Act legislation. Mt. Polley is considering project options near Horsefly under guidance from federal and provincial fisheries biologists and other stakeholders to ensure the Offset Plan meets local fisheries management objectives.

Small tributaries to the Horsefly River help to produce as much as 75 per cent of the rainbow trout for Quesnel Lake and also provide critical Chinook and Coho salmon rearing habitat.

The Horsefly watershed is ranked  No. 1 “most at risk” in the Cariboo region and was recently recommended for Fisheries Sensitive Watershed status, so it’s good to see it treated as a management priority. The Roundtable is pleased that Mt. Polley will be providing funding to help restore critical rearing habitat in the Quesnel/Horsefly watershed.

Although we haven’t seen a report yet, we are informed that the NSTC has been carrying out bass research on the Beaver Lakes and streams and are finding many large bass.  Hopefully we will have some numbers to report next meeting.  People are reminded to report all bass incidental catches to the  Conservation Officer Service (COS).

The Salmon Festival is proceeding well into the planning stage.  A festival co-ordinator has been hired as well as the children’s art workshop person has been secured, and once again we are hoping the Sugar Cane and Soda Creek Bands will be holding a Pow Wow on the flats along the spawning channel.  Like any other of our projects, this is subject to available funding and volunteers, so we are hoping everything works out for the Bands.

The insurance for the campground and Salmon Trail not counting special events amounts to about $1,500 annually.  After some discussion it was decided that since the Roundtable is managing the trail for free, as well as taking care of the washroom accommodations, and other maintenance issues and we do not own the land, that it should be incumbent upon the land owner, namely DFO or the Government of Canada, to insure the area for liability.  We will take out special events insurance for our Salmon Festival.

The Pumped Storage Hydro projects at Hen Ingram and the other lakes was discussed, inasmuch as there has been no contact from Eclipsol to members of the Roundtable, and all the same issues raised have not been addressed by the proponent, we will have to wait for their application to proceed to be approved before we take any kind of action individually or as a group.

Horsefly is not being treated as a place of reference by the proponent; instead they have chosen to deal with the CRD and First Nations, and to go around the local population.

It is a fact that Eclipsol does know who we are, but choose to ignore us because they have the permission they need to proceed from the B.C. government, and we fell what we think simply doesn’t matter to them.

In addition to ongoing salmon habitat restoration funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, there may be opportunity for local trout habitat enhancement through the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. Streams which are currently under consideration for restoration or enhancement are juvenile salmon and trout rearing streams such as Wilmot Creek, Patenaude Creek, Sucker Creek, and Kroener Creek. Next meeting will be on August 21, 2014 at the Horsefly Library at 7  p.m.

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