Salmon foundation provides funding for habitat rehab

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is supporting 16 projects focused on habitat rehabilitation, education and improving stock numbers on southern Vancouver Island.

Grant money from the non-profit foundation totals $238,056 through its community salmon program. The total value of the projects, which includes community fundraising, contributions and volunteer time, is $1.48 million.

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“Pacific salmon need our help now to restore spawning habitats in stream and rivers, carry out stock assessment and enhancement, and provide educational opportunities,” said Michael Meneer, chief executive of the foundation.

Salmon stocks are in trouble in B.C.

It’s unlikely that a Fraser River sockeye fishery will be allowed this year due to low numbers resulting from changing ocean conditions and the impact of the Big Bar landslide on the river in the winter of 2018.

Chinook fisheries have been severely restricted again this year to protect dwindling stock numbers and to help provide food for endangered southern resident killer whales.

The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society have been working for many years to restore salmon to Douglas Creek.

Grant money will go toward its plans to install an aluminum bridge over Douglas Creek to make the crossing safer for visitors.

New signs and habitat improvement will be carried out.

Fences will be installed to ensure people stay on trails and do not walk on the area next to the creek.

Darrell Wick, president of the park society, said partnering with the foundation has helped in restoration work to encourage spawning coho and chum salmon.

When the society receives a grant, that helps leverage more support, he said.

“As an urban creek, within an urban watershed, there are innumerable challenges for our project which provide excellent opportunities for student research projects from the University of Victoria and Camosun College.”

Every year, families take part in a carcass transplant at Douglas Creek and release salmon that were raised in small tanks in classrooms.

The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney is putting grant funds toward a new live herring exhibit to educate visitors about the role these fish play in the ecosystem as a main prey for salmon.

As part of its work with herring, the centre is planning to develop programs with other research institutions to improve conservation efforts.

Some schools, such as Fernwood Elementary on Salt Spring Island, are also receiving foundation funds.

At Fernwood, for example, science and art workshops will be used to teach more than 700 students, plus parents and teachers, about salmon habitat and why it is important to protect rivers and oceans for wild stocks.

Other local groups supported by foundation grants include the Four Mile Creek Enhancement Society in Port Renfrew. New maturing pens for chinook salmon will help increase the capacity at the hatchery as it aims to release 500,000 chinook to help rebuild stocks.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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