VANCOUVER — The B.C. Parks Foundation has bought key riverfront property along the Fraser River between Mission and Hope to protect it and restore it to its natural state.
The parcel purchased isn’t especially large, measuring 35 hectares or about an eighth of a square mile. But it is a part of “the heart of the Fraser River” — an 80-kilometre stretch of river from Mission to Hope that sustains B.C.’s largest salmon spawning run.
Every second year, that part of the Fraser sees millions of pink salmon spawning in the river’s main stem, many in close proximity to the property.
“This is one of the most productive stretches of river on the planet,” said Parks Foundation CEO Andy Day in an announcement of the purchase.
“It supports close to 30 species of fish and our finest sturgeon habitat, as well as being an essential rearing habitat and migration corridor for millions and millions of salmon.”
Day said the foundation prioritized the riverfront purchase and had to act quickly.
“Being on the edge of Greater Vancouver, the development pressure on areas like this is huge.”
A prominent B.C. conservationist hailed the acquisition. Mark Angelo, rivers chair for the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. and a founder of World Rivers Day, called it “a critical property in a critical area.
“We are all grateful to the B.C. Parks Foundation for its ability to protect places like this, for salmon, wildlife and British Columbians. It’s an incredible gift this Christmas.”
The foundation will now work with members of the Seabird First Nation neighbouring the property, salmon experts and volunteers on restoring and protecting the property. Public access will not be allowed during the planning and protection work.
The Fraser has been listed as B.C.’s most endangered river because of development pressures, and Angelo called for more action from governments to protect it.
“Resource extraction, agricultural expansion, urbanization, land development and of course climate change are just some of the significant challenges facing this area,” said Angelo, who has worked for decades to protect the area.
Beyond salmon, the “heart of the Fraser” supports seals, sea lions, beaver, bears, deer and cougars, and has a wide-ranging bird population including red-tail hawks, green and great blue heron, bald eagles, ducks and sandhill cranes.
It’s home to amphibians such as the Oregon spotted frog, western red-backed salamander and the Pacific giant salamander.
“This property has Mission on one side and Hope on the other, and those two words pretty much sum up what we are all about,” said Day, who thanked the tens of thousands who support the foundation and helped make the purchase possible.
“For another beautiful and important part of B.C., the restoration and rewilding can now begin,” said Day.