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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, the last time a comment was made as to "parking on the gravel of the riverbed" it got 4 pages of debate and was sent to the "bin" and still got almost another page of print after banishment.

There were some good points brought up by a number of anglers and most of them seemed to center around the fact the ANY form of pollution of the river and ANY gravel disruption is not a healthy thing for the river.
Let's look at this a little more closely as it can easily be taken to the extreme.
Aside from the previous topic where "a truck" parked in the riverbed, there are a lot of other issues that were not covered in the previous discussion.

Every year, salmon lay their eggs in a wide range of spots along the Chilliwack/Vedder river. Some don't venture too far upstream and others head way up towards Chilliwack Lake, much like the pink salmon, who seem to love the gravel bars in the Agassiz, Chwk. Hope areas, and do not venture too much further.
The points made on Pegleg and boatlaunches etc. are falling on my deaf ears. only because I am questioning the real problems of both systems.

A much larger problem for both the Chilliwack/Vedder and the Fraser is the natural storm flooding that inevitebly occurs every year and wipes out our favourite runs and covers all the spawning areas with a new layer of 6 feet of gravel, as well as the gravel extractions that have continued to take place in the Vedder over the last few years (for flood control)?

Recently, the Vancouver Sun & the Province put their own spin on the gravel extraction planned for the Fraser this year in prime spawning areas of the river. One paper says it is a threat to salmon populations, and the other writer put a different spin on it towards "flood control", and if the gravel wasn't removed, their will be a major flood in the Fraser delta.

Now, I ask you, what is the truth here and what is significant? I am not downplaying the smaller infractions along the river, but c'mon people, If several large gravel bars are removed from the Fraser, some fish are going to die,! Or are they? Also, if the Fraser floods next year, some people are going to lose a lot of $$$...Who is reaping the benefits of these gravel extractions and why can't some of the profits be put back into the very systems that are being so lucrative to the people involved?

I am interested to hear your comments on this broader problem and not a slag of someone who launches their boat by backing their truck into the river......Ortho 8)
 

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Re: River Gravel Revisited

I wasn't going to post on this one, but a) it's 4:30 and I cant sleep and b) this is definately a topic worth discussion. I am curious on the direction this topic will take. I like most do take the reports in the paper for what they are one persons interpretation of a story. I am troubled though when they do a report on such a sensitive topic and focus on what will the readers be drawn to. It seems that the biggest concern is it's going to kill fish as every story I have read states. I have a question for the reporters on this, was it the gravel extraction at the Agassiz bridge the cause of the fish kill.? NO The fact that the access road was constructed incorrectly that was the cause of the fish kill. If the road was built correctly the impact would have been minor and the topic would'nt be so heated. Here is some food for thought the contractor that was involved with that one is now working with the Seabird Island band on thier extraction.
The papers would have you believe the extractions are happening in the main stream and the machines in direct contact with the water When in fact there is a large no go zone between the work area and the water edge.
Ortho you had brought up the point is it for flood protection or for profit. The politicians would have you believe that it is of course for flood protection, here is something to mull on. The current price on pit run is around 15.50 m3. Now The Herling proposal is I believe a 535000 m3 extraction. Simple math puts the price tag at around 8.2 million. There are the extraction costs and processing, but allsaid let's say the contractor still walks away with 1.5 mil. thats not bad change for 3 months work. So is it about the money it could generate I would think that has a little pull.
Does it prevent floods, nah highly doubt it. There should be extractions done all over the river. though it should'nt be looked at as flood protection as more of a maintenance issue. The river will always move more that we can pull out safely. If we dont remove the excess fill she provides eventually the bed will be at the bottom of the ***** and then what is the limit to the height of the ***** we will be building to protect the Van area. here is a good example of the amout aof gravel a river will produce. On the Vedder there have been annual extractions. One extraction pit in mind was I believe about 9500 m3 one high water spell two years ago filled it like it was never there. Across the river there was another on that was I believe around the 10000m3 size and this past year, though it was a popular swimming hole for the kids was almost half full, and during the fall runs there were tons of salmon using it as a current break.
Some have said that when the excavation is being done there is silt and debris being washed down stream, how? On the Vedder for instance the gravel is clean and almost silt free, when the extraction is taking place the area is contained and there is no direct contact with the river.
Anyone growing up on the Vedder can tell you the changes the canal has take over the past ten years. Even with small extractions the river bed is now creaping up on the bottom bench road, and depths of the lower canal are extremely shallow. I personally have watched it go from a piece of river that had many pools and various deep channels to a mid summers trickle. Would'nt it make more sense from a fisheries point of view to allow limited excavations to create a deeper channel from the lower canal up to the Yarrow area to allow the salmon and returnng fry easy access up and down from the fraser.
I am all for removals for the benefit of the river not the profit end, but what has to be emphised is that they have to be performed with the most limited impact on the surrounding habitat possible. If the politicians are serious about flood protection then to help solve the problem there will be some habitat destroyed by mass dredging and removals and I dont think the general public will ever let that happen, cause i think they are starting to realise that our stocks need all the help they can get.
Cheers,
Crazy D
 

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Re: River Gravel Revisited

I've read Marvin Roseneaus (sp) 3 booklet study of the Fraser gravel reach and problems facing it.

His take is that gravel removal is extremely dangerous to young fish and their habitat, we are talking Salmon, trout, STURGEon and all the little fish.

He also feels gravel removal as a form of flood control is not realistic.

Some other issues came up such as the log trap is severly hampering formation of log jams which are crucial fish habitat.

I wish you guys could read this stuff, it is a real eye opener.

I can see how the politicians are not happy with his study and document, really gives a clear picture of what the removals are based on, as usual GREED.

I never see major SAND removal projects on the Fraser or Chilliwack river, how come.

Seems to me that the Vedder canal would be the place to remove material to avoid floods, this is the part that has a rising river bed.

Probably the same case for the Fraser.

I wonder how the "Sturgeon Society" is feeling about the gravel removal ?, as these areas have been identified as Sturgeon rearing zones.
 

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Re: River Gravel Revisited

The spin on removing the gravel is that it looks good on paper, both from a media point of view, and those involved get to make some money off of the gravel. However, when you look at some of the factors involved, in my opinion I don't think it is going to do any good. For instance, up in the Prince George area they are bracing for future rounds of flooding from the Fraser. Once the ice jams are removed, they are speculating that the Fraser River will be running at all time highs during the spring runoff. Why is this? All one has to do is to look around and see the dying forests or the ugly clear cuts from the pine beetle infestation. As a result, with no trees to act as sponges to absorb the melting snow all that water will now flow into the streams and rivers in that area. And large rivers like the Fraser will be running higher and dirtier than ever. And that affects communities downstream in the Lower Mainland, because the Fraser isn't going to lose any of this runoff water as it makes its way to the Ocean. Instead of gravel removal, what the provincial government should be doing is working with communities to strenghten and raise the level of the *****. The reason they should come up with a longterm strategy such as this is that for the next twenty years or so, extremely high Fraser River runoffs are going to be the status quo because of the pine beetle infestation. So all we can do now is see how things work out, but thinking that removing gravel is going to solve the Fraser River flooding problems is being pretty naive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
CD...You make a good point on the gravel $$ and what it is worth to the local economy. Who is reaping the benefit? Private contractors, various levels of Government, First Nations? Why can't some of this profit go back towards any agency that has a stake in keeping the salmon protected and populations healthy?
Dfisher, the ice jam on the Nechako is almost an annual occurance, except this year, all levels of government failed to bolster their dyking system, and they are well aware of the problem areas.
Even though large areas of the Province' forrest have been decimated by the pine beetle, they are on different drainage systems and not all the areas are drained by the Fraser.Not saying it will not contribute, but a big chunk of this Province was clearcut over the past 30 years and I am sure the damage from the forestry activity is still being felt.
You can bet this will end up in a big media circus before the first scoops of gravel are removed.

Ortho 8)
 

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I was just up their this morning having a look at the new causeway that the contractor is putting across from Seabird island to big bar and the crew that was their were busy with containment booms because they already had a diesel fuel spill into the river. The little backwater were I like to cutthroat fish had a fuel slick covering at least 90% of it. It was so bad that I could not put even wet a line without having my line covered in fuel. I made the call to the report a poacher and pollutter hotline on my licence when I got home. I sure hope the contractor did the right thing an reported to proper departments right away and did not try to cover things up because I did give out the name of the contractor doing the work to the fellow that answered the phone from the hotline
 

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I understand that the gravel removal will be crucial to prevent a flood, but is hard on the fish...but wouldn't a flood be harder on the fish? more silt/mud/grass flowing in the river....plus all the sawdust from berry farms, and manure from all the other kinds of farms adding toxic chemicals to the water? I would think that sawdust would clog up the gills on them sturgeon, better then a little gravel flow...no?
 

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Man that is bad news for the ones for gravel removal and for the contractor involved. If this hits the media i wonder what effect it will have on the Herling proposal.
CD
 

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On the Fish BC Site, there is a report of a tug that capsized at the site. Whatever fuel/oil that escapes from the tug cannot be good for any fish and wildlife in the area. In addition, they have some newspaper articles also in the thread that raise serious questions about what good removing gravel from the Fraser will do. One individual who did an analysis on the gravel removal proposal came to the conclusion in his report that at best it may prevent the river from rising " five to fifteen centimetres" only. A negligble amount at best, and not enough to prevent flooding. Who wants to bet that once the Fraser River starts rising rapidly again this Spring, there will be a mad dash by all levels of government to try and fortify the ***** along the Fraser. Makes you wonder who is driving the bus :wallbash:.
 

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I too thought that flood levels would rise on the Fraser with the pine beetle taking all the shade that slows the snow melt up north. But one report countered that the new "grasslands" would be dryer than usual without the shade of the missing pines and the dryer land would happily soak up the quicker snow melt in the spring resulting in a normal runoff. But that's just one theory. We shall see how it truly pans out.

DSD.
 

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Hey Mike, the govt fired their own expert on this matter once he came to the conclusion that no real benefit to flood control was going to take place and the damage to fish and wildlife would be massive. The fish move to sloughs, and back channels when the river floods. If you look at the Vedder river and consider why it is so productive, look no farther than the countless side channels, spawning channels, creeks and rivulets that alllow fish and especially small fish to hide out in times of high water . This is also where they go to find food while they are young. This recent spill into a back channel I'm sure would probably kill many young salmonids and sturgeon.

Spend our money on raised ***** and pump houses and leave the prime habitat alone.

Mike I'm sure you will be glad to hear(sarcasm) that DR Marvin Roseneau (gravel reach expert) found that young Chinook use the back channels such as Herrling much more than we ever would have believed. Remember that when they close Chinook fishing in the years to come and it's scientifically proven that taking gravel to prevent flooding is proven as complete bunk.
 

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This is a complete tragedy and only twoi years ago we went through this .
The dollar is the only thing that matters obviously and where is that money going i wonder?

I sent an email to the Environment minister today but im not holding my breath waiting for the reply.

BC is for sale so get it while you can.
 

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Ram tuff, I have spoken with many fish bios and they seem to feel that salmon dig their redds deep and wading anglers have no chance of upsetting the eggs. I myself was worried about such occurences and was assured that wading anglers pose no threat to the eggs. This came up as I was doing fertilizer placement in trib creeks and I was worried about my own actions in the water, we had a good discussion about it and numerous bios present assured me this was a false belief by anglers.
But burying the eggs with silt is another matter entirely.
 

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What I do find strange is the fact that they are apparently building a causeway similar to the one that caused all the dewatering in 06. The same contractor involved, I would hope they would have learned something the first time. I find it a bit troubling that they have to pick bars where water has to be crossed for the extraction sites. the front channel at Herrling used to dry up and the back waters would recide somewhat. That is what you think they should be looking for. Over the last couple years the front has always had water in it continously and quite a decent flow to it. I would think if they are to build a cause way across it wouldn't it be similar to putting one across the lower canal, it's average depth in the late winter /summer is in around the 12" to 18" mark.
I dont think DFO would ever let someone do that so what is the difference here. Why on the Fraser. There have been other extractions done where the roadway does'nt cross water, and they pulled out signifigant quanities of gravel, when they were done the area was left as natural as possible with the expectation that fish would be able to inhabit the area in high water.
Gravel removal can be done in a impact limiting way if it is done correctly. The way gov't is going about it now trying to please the ones that can influence the most is just a time bomb waiting to go off. If you think for a moment they are concerned about flooding and this is the main reason behind it put the blinders back on. It is about the money plain and simple. Who knows maybe they will use thier monies like paper mache and just patch some of the leaks in the *****.
Cheers,
Crazy D
 

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I believe this time the contractors did their homework first. The causeway I saw them building was half a dozen 6 foot diameter culverts with rock and gravel over top out to where a barge was driving pilings for the temporary bridge and then more large culverts out on to big bar. But that still does not help the fuel spill I witnessed last Saturday........
 

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This is one topic that I can't miss out on.

I want to post a few of my concerns for the fraser and it's tributaries. I don't see why we can't get the best of both worlds and allow the harvest of gravel from the fraser to promote jobs and growth in the fraser valley. I would however like to see this harvest completed in a eco-friendly manner. Just as the forest industry has begun using forwarders in the bush to reduce soil damage during harvesting, I believe that if we put our heads together we can find an economical and eco-friendly way to harvest gravel in the lower fraser in order to reap the $$$ value of this unique renewable resource. As for fish habitat, I am all in for keeping what we have. There must be a way to harvest gravel from areas that are not classified as fish spawning grounds. Maybe we could develop a plan similar to selective logging and implement it in the harvesting of gravel.

As for the flooding, I believe that we can also have an economical gain in this area by creating more jobs for people in BC. The number one thing I see here in the Quesnel and Prince George area is a HUGE lack of trees. We NEED to start planting billions of trees. By doing this we can bring back our natural spongy friends to help with the flooding, create habitat for our furry friends and foe, and we can also bring back an economy in forestry.

That's my two cents.

"PLANT A TREE. SAVE A FISH."

This should be our next slogan for BC.

Ben
Quesnel, BC
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You comments are appreciated on this topic. It is a very unique area, and deserves much more thought to the future, prior to jumping in a running gravel extaction operations. Some posts have referred to "studies" and although both sides of the debate have conducted their own, I am not convinced by either one.....I know the folks in the Vedder River Trailer Park get nervous when the river runs high, but the gravel extraction in the lower vedder certainly doesn't seem to make any difference at all, and it is a lot smaller river than the Fraser!....Ortho 8)
 

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I believe the studies that the biologists did that said this would be harmfull to the fish.
They were promptly takien off the job and shuffled to a different position because that wasnt the answer the ministry was looking for.
That tells me more than i really want to know. :-[
 

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I find it hard to believe most fisheries reports after seeing first hand that ,the methods used to massage the reports before they ever see the light of day and our awaiting eyes.
After 35 years of active fishing involvement in the Fraser valley(yes I've lived here for all my 51 years) and going to college with Marvin Roseneaus(sp too)(he got way better marks than me) I find it sad and disheartening, when biologists on both sides of the issue are pressured to filter out a lot of information and facts before their reports are released.
As for the contractors working in the river at present, I would hope a fisheries biologist is on scene at all times. Those buggers got away with murder last year and killed millions of spring redds in their beds when they blocked water flow against permit criteria. They will do anything to help themselves if not babysat...
Pretty disgusting from my point of view,esspecially when there are such huge damages done as these are large scale operations(they're not just removing a few hundred dumptruck loads) :wallbash:!!!
 
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