Work has just completed this week on a watershed restoration project at Puntzi Creek, a tributary of the Chilcotin River in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Taseko Mines Ltd. says the creek, which has become clogged due to debris build-up over many years, is an integral component of an extremely productive ecosystem, possessing the highest recorded rainbow trout biomass of any small stream in British Columbia.
The fishery in the Punzti system is of value to First Nations, resort and landowners, ranchers and recreation enthusiasts. Due to unmanaged beaver activity and man-made barriers, the water flows, lake levels, and fishery are being impacted, Taseko says.
To address these detrimental impacts, revitalize spawning habitat and improve the downstream fishing and recreational values of the watershed, Taseko has partnered with the provincial government as well as Tsilhqot’in Nation statesman Ervin Charleyboy, who has recruited a number of aboriginal young people from his First Nations Youth Council to participate in the work.
The Youth Council is a volunteer organization of young people, mentored by Charleyboy, who are seeking to better their futures through work experience, job shadowing, education, and training.
“The Puntzi Creek project represents a successful partnership between industry, First Nations and our provincial government,” says Katherine Gizikoff, director of environment and governmental affairs for Taseko Mines. “Taseko is proud to participate in the restoration of a waterway that is ecologically and culturally important. Beyond this, the project also offers educational and paid work experience for Tsilhqot’in members, who have shown great pride in the project and worked hard to achieve its success.”
Under the guidance of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Taseko Mines is lending the engineering and infrastructure resources to the Puntzi Creek restoration project. Specifically, the effort will enhance indigenous fish spawning and rearing habitat.
“From a First Nations perspective Puntzi Creek is an area of ecological importance and deserving of proper care and stewardship,” said Ervin Charleyboy, former Tsilhqot’in chief of Redstone. “The collaboration between Taseko Mines, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and our First Nations Youth Council has certainly helped to expedite the debris clearing effort, providing additional expertise, human resources and necessary equipment. This partnership is a win for all parties.”
Work at Puntzi Creek was completed on Sept. 11.