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British Columbia Context

RECONNECT HYDROLOGY AND STREAM ECOLOGY BY DESIGN: “Changes to hydrology and riparian condition due to changes in land use are the top two factors influencing system integrity,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, in an article published in the Winter 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter


“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, provides local governments with a tool to establish benchmarks for maintenance and management of stream corridor systems in the built environment. The Partnership’s desired outcome is that local governments would apply the EAP methodology and metrics to determine real numbers for budget planning purposes. Then inter-departmental conversations would have a starting point for operationalizing M&M of natural assets within Asset Management Plans,” stated Kim Stephens.

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JOURNEY FROM STREAMKEEPER TO ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE: “Salmon brought me a strong sense of community, something I had never really felt before. I felt protective of what we share, and that the next generation deserves it as much as we do,” stated Laura Dupont, President, Lower Mainland Local Government Association


“Salmon pulled me into appreciating nature on a whole other level. I could not learn enough about them. They are the most fascinating and resilient creatures. One cannot underestimate their importance to Indigenous communities and coastal ecosystems. Next step was to join a watershed group and become a streamkeeper, and then a river protector. Salmon led me to learn more about, and fall in love with, the flora and fauna of the BC Coast. I will always be eternally grateful to live here,” stated Laura Dupont

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INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE SALMON: Reconnect People, Fish, Land and Water – a unifying theme for module #3 in the Watershed Moments Virtual Symposium (livestreamed on YouTube; December 3, 2020)


“From an International Year of the Salmon perspective, large efforts of a very large mass of people around the rims of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and likely Arctic oceans will need to ‘come together’ for any real change to occur. From this perspective the requirement in an increasingly interconnected world is closer to ‘humankind’ than to a few of us in the local community. That said, it’s the sum of us in local communities that will move this closer to a humankind undertaking,” stated Dr. Kim Hyatt.

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FINANCIAL VALUATION OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES AND WORTH: “As a result of alterations to the hydrology of the creekshed, the Shelly Creek ‘riparian ecosystem’ has been reduced to a number of ‘riparian zones’ as defined in regulations. We view this finding as one of the key takeaways from the Shelly Creek demonstration application of the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Chair, EAP Chair


“The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considers use and conservation of land to be equally important values. Historically, land use and property development in our communities have been given priority over ecological systems such as streams. Too often the result has been remnant ecological services that fall far short of the benefits that these natural commons can provide. The research findings suggest that the diminution of stream functions gradually will draw the attention of property owners and the community to the ‘no harm’ rule in land appraisal.,” stated Tim Pringle.

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PORTAGE INLET CUTTHROAT INITIATIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CAPITAL REGION: “PICI is a logical continuation of the stewardship approach our fishing club has taken since 2014 in volunteering to improve water quality and recreational opportunities through the Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative located in the headwaters of the Colquitz River,” explained Mick Collins, Victoria Golden Rods and Reels Fishing Club


“With PICI we expanded the geographical scope to two entire watersheds in a three- step systematic process. First, raise seed money through an alliance of like- minded angling groups. Secondly, create a ‘consortium’ of non-profit, corporate and small business organizations to plan a comprehensive science- based program and secure grants. Thirdly, work with all levels of government towards a clear goal. In this case habitat protection and restoration for an iconic, but often neglected, species of concern, native Coastal Cutthroat Trout,” stated Mick Collins.

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WILL LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE? — “The International Year of the Salmon program has the potential to be a game-changer. It is not just about the fish; it is about humankind creating sustainable landscapes for people and salmon,” say Kim Hyatt and Peter Tschaplinski, the federal-provincial science duo who will inform, educate and engage participants in the finale module at the Comox Valley 2020 Symposium


In British Columbia, the iconic salmon is the canary in the coal mine. The multi-year program that is the International Year of the Salmon could be a ‘carpe diem moment’ (i.e. seize the day) for communities. “Significant initiatives and projects directly relevant to sustaining and enhancing wild salmon and their freshwater habitats are under way such as the federal-provincial BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy together with other provincial natural resource ministries are key players,” states Peter Tschaplinski.

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MITIGATING A CATASTROPHIC ROCKSLIDE ON THE SEYMOUR RIVER, NORTH VANCOUVER: “We have been working on this for four years so, for the community, this is just great news. It’s fabulous news. I’m handing out cigars like a new father,” said Shaun Hollingsworth, president of the Seymour Salmonid Society, which has led the rescue effort (Dec 2015 through 2019)


“Big thanks are owed to the six governments – local, provincial, and federal as well as Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations – in addition to a host of NGOs, who have worked on the project,” stated Shaun Hollingsworth. “It’s thrilling. It’s unbelievable. It’s just a great feeling and I just want those who have been part of it to be proud of what they’ve done. When I go and sit at the rock slide, I believe that it’s fish passable, and Mother Nature is proving my gut feel correct.”

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SHELLY CREEK ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: “This is a story about how a local group of streamkeepers has morphed from a focus on salmon and trout habitat restoration, to advocates for ecosystem monitoring of watershed functions… the Whole System Approach,” stated Peter Law, President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, in a session on ‘Watershed Health and You’ at the Parksville 2019 Symposium (watch on YouTube)


“Since 2010, Our volunteers have embraced the idea of monitoring aquatic ecosystems and habitats in our watershed, often times partnering with agencies, local governments or private landowners to identify the status of certain indicators. We called the program ‘Watershed Health and You’,” stated Peter Law. “We are engaging our neighbours who live in the watershed, to discuss how the community can help restore Shelly Creek. The legacy of Faye Smith, and her mantra of engaging the community continues.”

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INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE SALMON: “I like to say to people that after 100 years of research, we know a lot about salmon, but what we need to know most, we mostly don’t know,” stated Dr. Richard Beamish, Scientist Emeritus with the Pacific Biological Research Station in Nanaimo


In 2012, Dick Beamish proposed the International Year of the Salmon to promote research on how ocean conditions are contributing to changes. IYS has now grown into an effort to ensure the “resilience of both salmon and people” in a changing climate. In embarking on this journey, British Columbians can learn from historical precedents and parallels. In particular, the “salmon crisis” in the 1990s was a game-changer in the way it was the catalyst for green infrastructure practices. A generation later, will lightning strike twice and will the iconic salmon again be the regulatory driver that spurs communities to raise the bar to “improve where we live”?

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Governments of Canada and British Columbia announce ‘B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund’: “Wild salmon are deeply woven into B.C.’s cultural, social and economic fabric,” stated Premier John Horgan (March 2019)


“When it comes to our wild salmon stocks, there is no better indicator of the challenges we face than rising water temperatures, low snow pack, rivers that aren’t full with enough water to sustain our salmon, and that’s where we need to intervene,” said Premier John Horgan. “The salmon don’t know boundaries. The orca don’t know boundaries. They don’t know jurisdictions, one order of government over another. All they know is that humans have been interfering in their life cycles and it’s time for humans to get in the game and make a better choice and better decisions and help the salmon survive.”

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