Fri, 12 Jul 2013

Urban Lakes Development Program Presented With HCTF Silver Award

The new fishing dock at Durrance is already proving popular with anglers.

An HCTF Silver Award was presented to the Vancouver Island Urban Lakes Fisheries Development Program this week in recognition of its efforts to increase angler participation by improving fishing infrastructure at lakes near urban centres.

Scott Silvestri of MFLRNO leads the project, which has already received over $75,000 in grants from HCTF, with another $54,000 committed for 2013-14. By bringing together local governments, granting organizations and fish & game clubs, Scott and his team have made great strides in improving access to a number of fishing locations around the island while keeping costs to a minimum.

The Urban Lakes project is currently in its third and final year of funding. Infrastructure projects already complete include:

• Newly-constructed fishing floats, ramps and trails at Durrance Lake, Diver Lake and Westwood Lake.

• New fishing floats at Fuller Lake and Mayo Lake.

• Repairs to the walkway of the fishing float at Chemainus Lake.

• Development of a car-top boat launch for Quennell Lake.

• Improvements to the boat launch at Spider Lake.

Click here to view the locations of these projects on a map.

 

A number of potential infrastructure projects have been identified for 2013-14 . These include:

• Construction of wheelchair-accessible fishing dock at Blinkhorn Lake.

• Construction of fishing floats at Colwood Lake and Thetis Lake.

• Creation of boat launchs and fishing docks at Prospect Lake and Echo Lake.

Observations of increased angler use at sites where infrastructure work is complete suggest that the upgrades and additions are working: by making fishing more accessible, this project not only has the potential to inspire new groups of conservationists through participation in angling, but also increase funding for fish enhancement and restoration projects through additional licence sales.

In addition to this award from HCTF, the Vancouver Island Urban Lakes Fisheries Development Program has also been named a regional finalist in the BC Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Awards. The awards, which will be handed out in September, recognize exceptional work by B.C. public service employees and teams whose contributions have made a positive difference in the province. Congratulations, Scott, on your nomination: hopefully you’ll have another plaque to accompany your Silver Award in the fall.

 

Mon, 17 Jun 2013
Tags: Fisheries

HCTF Grant Helps Move Penticton Creek Rehabilitation Forward

Penticton Creek.

 

It’s been sixty years since Penticton Creek, Okanagan Lake’s third largest tributary, was able to support healthy fish populations.

The creek, which runs right through downtown Penticton, was channelized in the early 1950’s in response to seasonal flooding. Transformed into what is essentially a concrete trough, the creek lost much of its spawning and rearing habitat for cutthroat and rainbow trout. Other tributaries to Okanagan Lake have been impacted by a range of habitat losses, resulting in a dramatic decline in fish spawning numbers from historic levels.

Now half a century old, the concrete lining the creek is failing. Rather than replacing the current structure with more of the same, the City of Penticton is using this opportunity to rehabilitate the creek in a way that will restore critical fish habitat while still providing flood protection for surrounding communities. A $63,000 grant from HCTF will provide much-needed funding to complete the design stage of the project, allowing incorporation of leading science and current best practices into the plan.

In an interview with Global News, Acting Penticton Mayor Garry Litke commented on the positive effect that creek rehabilitation will have on the surrounding environment: “The long term benefits are the health of Okanagan Lake. Fish (…) are like the canary in the coal mine: the healthier the fish are, the healthier your lake is.”

Improving fish populations will also have economic and recreational benefits for local communities. During Downtown Plan consultations, the rehabilitation of Penticton Creek was identified as among the top priorities for residents and businesses.

“Sustainability and economic activity are key factors in revitalizing Downtown Penticton and the community as a whole, and Penticton Creek rehabilitation is a huge step toward realizing both of those goals,” said Litke. “The City of Penticton recognizes the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and anglers, hunters, trappers and guides who contribute to the Trust, for making a significant financial contribution to support the Penticton Creek rehabilitation project. Without such support, this project would not have been possible.”

You can learn more about the Penticton Creek Rehabilitation Initiative in the City of Penticton’s Downtown Plan, in this article from the Penticton Daily News, or by watching the video segment appearing on Global News (Okanagan).

 

 

 

Fri, 16 Nov 2012

River Restoration Benefits Fish & Anglers

river-restorationFish—and anglers—in the Kettle River watershed are the beneficiaries of a three-year project by the environment ministry, with funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, to restore natural flows in the river.

In 2003 and 2009 there were fish kills due to low water levels, which reached historic lows during the 2009 drought, recalls environment ministry biologist Tara White, who has been heading up the project to improve the situation for the last few years. Fishery closures were put in place in the past, but efforts to improve conditions have allowed recreational fishing to re-open more recently.

In fact, White says there was a six-fold increase in fish numbers after installation between 2007 and 2009 of 29 large, woody debris structures throughout the river, which provide deep water refuge for rainbow trout. Now, they’re building on that with this three-year Kettle River Streamflow Protection Plan funded by the HCTF.

At issue are over-harvesting of fish, increased agricultural use and development in the valley and environmental damage such as removal of natural riparian cover and in-stream debris.

The ministry has been working to improve the deteriorating condition on the Kettle River for the past two decades, while flows have declined at the critical late summer and early fall period when demand is highest from agricultural and domestic users.

“This is the second year of this project, which has four main components,” White explains.

First, a stock assessment is done, using snorkel gear to float in the river and count fish, then keeping data by age classes.This year fish were also tagged above the dorsal fin to refine those estimates of fish abundance. The work was done with the help of members of the Lonely Loon, Penticton and Castlegar Flyfishers clubs, and other local anglers, notes White.

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Second, flows and habitat are monitored using 11 stations on the Kettle, West Kettle and Granby Rivers. Changes in channel width, wetted width and flows are all measured and correlated to establish the relationship between streamflow, temperature and fish stocks.

“We need to identify the thresholds where fish are adversely affected so we know when we need to close the fishery, and so we know the minimum flow requirements to prevent fish kills,” she explains.

The third component is outreach and education, so she has been meeting with agricultural sectors such as the cattlemen, fruit growers and grape growers, as well as anglers and naturalists’ clubs and local government to talk about management issues and concerns.

Fourth, a water use plan is underway which will include crop mapping so allocation and use is better understood, as well as information about fish and their needs and groundwater resources.

White says it is gratifying to see some improvements happening. “The best part is to see the buy-in from stakeholders and volunteers. Working together, we can fix it,” she comments. “Once we lose those fish stocks we don’t know if we can ever get them back. Without HCTF funding and the club volunteers we wouldn’t have been able to embark on this project,” she adds.

The HCTF exists because hunters, anglers, guides and trappers contribute money towards projects that maintain and enhance the health and biodiversity of this province’s fish and wildlife and their habitat—and toward education about those natural resources. Since 1981, it has contributed more than $130 million through surcharges on licences, with this funding administered by an independent foundation board of volunteers from around B.C.