The Horsefly Salmon Spawning Channel saw improvements this year. Angie Mindus photo

Horsefly Roundtable 2017 fall review

Salmon channel restored but wheelchair access destroyed

Bruce MACLEOD

Special to the Tribune

Due to the summer wildfires the Roundtable did not meet during the summer, and any events we had planned did not take place. We finally got together on Oct. 25 at the Horsefly Library at our usual 7 p.m. time.

It was a long meeting as we had much to discuss and re-acquaint ourselves with. Brian Englund, our new president plans to take school children out to local streams to do fish counts and population estimates and note any streams that have potential for improvements, and at the same time everyone can learn some stream biology about local invertebrates. With any luck at all this will occur next summer.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has supplied an incubator for the Horsefly school to incubate salmon eggs as a project; another fantastic educational tool for the local school. We will be receiving a concrete salmon structure to go up somewhere around the new log sign we had planned to put up this year, and we plan on creating a slide video presentation on completed projects such as the Woodjam Creek restoration and the Patenaude Creek restoration as well as Sucker Creek improvements.

One thing that was accomplished was a new outhouse at the campground across the Horsefly Bridge; however some access problems exist at the moment.

We had a special presentation from Jared Sales, the construction manager of the Williams Lake division of Celtic Eldorado Construction Limited with his assistant Jake Walsh. Here is a brief synopsis of what he told us they are doing:

• All the gravel in the channel was cleaned and graded properly

• Enlarged the exfiltration pond by 30 – 40 per cent so the lower 400 meters of the channel could be cleaned. This will be a huge improvement as now the flow is even from beginning to end and the water carries much of the silt right on through the channel.

• Installed two V-weir structures with deep resting pools at different locations in the channel.

• Removed the two beaver dams from the channel and one at the intake pond

• Replaced the flow control gates and structures

• Redesigned and increased the size of the settling pond by about 30 per cent.

• Installed an upgraded filtration system for the channel water

• At two locations the concrete fence walkway is designed with a sub- surface concrete chamber so salmon will detect the flow from beneath, which stimulates them to stop jumping and injuring themselves attempting further upstream migration.

Judy Hillaby, our DFO representative and myself were excited to go out and photograph all these improvements as soon as the job was over, and made a commitment to do so.

It was agreed that no matter what, we are going to have a Salmon Festival sometime in mid-September 2018; a special festival committee was struck and we agreed to meet again on Nov. 29 at the library which we did, and basically we will have the same festival as we always have over a two day period with the following activities being considered: having our new archway erected near the picnic site; building a Labyrinth; having our usual invertebrates, fish dissections and fish displays, all DFO supported; Volunteer musicians; Gyotaku, and escorted walks around the river and channel. Our hours would be 10 – four each day.

The scope of the festival will depend entirely on any funding we might achieve between now and festival time.

Now I am not a negative person, and always try to put a good spin on all my reports, however Judy Hillaby and myself went down to check the new improvements on the channel just recently. All went well until we reached the end of the bridge walkway where the new settling pond has been greatly enhanced; we could see that, however I could not obtain any real decent photos because the trail is no longer wheelchair accessible.

It is a virtual quagmire from the pond area to the where the bridge crosses the road, so Judy and I turned around and went down to the bridge on the road.

Here we found the former level hard surfaced parking lot had been roughed up somewhat, and the trail was inaccessible also. Optimistically we went across the road to the old trail though the gate and down to the fork in the trail where vehicles can gain access, and here we ran into a sea of loose gravel as far as the eye can see.

I dutifully drove my electric wheelchair down the trail about 20 feet where I promptly mired down in the gravel and became hopelessly stuck. After some futility I managed to back out from where I was, however my battery was almost dead and I had to make it home before I froze my keester off.

Now the Roundtable has a huge problem to fix before any festival can take place. Last trail improvements were funded by the CRD and came to somewhere around 10 or 20 thousand. Of course we will see what the DFO engineers in Vancouver comes up with to repair this new problem they have laid on our doorstep and perhaps Celtic Eldorado aren’t quite finished yet.

They were just being generous when they came to our meeting and gave us an update on what they were doing, and are not working in any part for our organization.

The Roundtable would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the Cariboo residents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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