Kokanee have been a rare site in Bridge Creek in recent years.

Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club looks to restore Bridge Creek spawning channel

The Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club has applied for funding to rehabilitate the Bridge Creek spawning channel.

The Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club has applied for funding to rehabilitate the Bridge Creek spawning channel.

The channel was once a major location for spawning kokanee, however the number of fish entering the channel have dwindled over the years, to the point where no fish were spotted in 2012, only two in 2013 and only 20 last year.

The club wants to clean up the channel to restore it as kokanee habitat, said president Gary Krestinsky. It has applied for $20,000 in funding from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program to do the work.

“There’s a number of factors that influence the kokanee return,” he told the Times Review. “It could be the survival rate, it could be a low water year, it could be an impediment or barriers. There’s all sorts of reasons the kokanee returns fluctuate.

“If we improve the spawning channel, then at least the habitat is improved so that if the kokanee do return they have a better chance of spawning.”

The spawning channel was built more than 30 years ago  through a collaboration of the Rod & Gun Club, Revelstoke Rotary Club and Ministry of the Environment. At it’s peak, as many as 50,000 fish entered the channel, according to records kept by Rotarian Sam Olynyk.

“Over the years it has naturally silted in and the silt is getting to the point where the gravel that was put in during the project was becoming covered up and not usable,” said Kretinsky.

Bridge Creek is the site of the annual Kokanee Festival, where school children are brought to the spawning channel to observe the kokanee and learn about the fish and nature. The Rod & Gun Club, North Columbia Environmental Society, BC Hydro, Parks Canada and Bear Aware all take part in the festival. The last few years, the children have shown up, but there hasn’t been any fish.

“It’s a tremendous asset from an educational aspect, the sight-seeing aspect, and there’s a minor contribution to the kokanee population in the system,” said Krestinsky.

The channel is about 700-800 metres long, he said. Restoration work would be done in August, when the Ministry of the Environment allows for the work to take place.

Krestinsky thanked the Revelstoke School District, Rotary Club, NCES and City of Revelstoke for writing letters of support for the project.

“It’s really a community effort,” he said.

 

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