New Spawning Pools – Just in Time!
The season’s first salmon were spotted at the estuary of Mossom Creek on September 1st. This year’s return is especially exciting as they arrived about a week after the completion of new spawning pools!
In August, a core group of amazing volunteers worked hard on a project that has been a long time in the planning. The project (funded by a Habitat Conservation Trust Fund grant) involved the complete reconstruction of two spawning areas in the lower reaches of the creek. The project was a big effort, requiring long hours in obtaining the necessary permits and volunteer time to create a dam, section off a portion of the creek, remove the fish and other aquatic life, and reshape the creek bed by machine. There are now two engineered spawning pools filled with spawning gravel and bracketed by boulder weirs.
Once again, the Mossom Creek Hatchery’s tradition of commitment and personal involvement was evident. This section of Mossom Creek flows through private property. The Sunnyside Property Owners were supportive (and patient) with all the work. Resident and Mossom volunteer, Wally Dilay, was a constant source of advice and tools. Wally and Nancy’s home was the source of delicious baked goods (and washroom) throughout the project’s four days.
For three days before the in-stream work began, a small crew worked tirelessly to construct a dam that would contain the flow of Mossom Creek so that water could be collected and pumped around the work area. Exclusion fences were installed to prevent upstream and downstream movement into the area where we would work. The evening before construction started, volunteers baited and set Gee minnow traps so we could remove fish from the work section. Before the excavator could go in the creek, further work had to be done. A professional team from Ecofish Research electro-fished the area; briefly shocking sections of the water to stun any remaining fish so that they could be safely relocated.
It took many volunteers to isolate that section of the creek, remove the coho, cutthroat, sculpins and amphibians, and create and maintain a dam for a week while the work area was dewatered with a collection of pumps. After the machine work was completed, more volunteers moved spawning gravel into upstream pools and then deconstructed the dams and pipes, returning the stream to its natural flow. All of the work was closely monitored by a number of specialists including biologists Bruce Clark and Damian Regan (Mossom Creek volunteers) and cultural monitor Wayne Point (Musqueam Nation). Doug Richardson put in long hours to build the dam and keep the pumps operating.
An incredibly generous corporate sponsor made the project possible: Ecofish Research Ltd. President and Fisheries Biologist, Adam Lewis, (also a former Centennial School Salmon Project volunteer), donated his company’s resources for all the engineering, modelling, and consultation. In addition, the following EcoFish personnel donated their time and expertise to the project: Veronica Woodruff – Environmental Biologist, Project Manager; David West – Hydrology Task Manager, Water Resources Engineer; Abul Baki – Water Resources Engineer, Scientist.
Kingston Construction Ltd.’s quick delivery of Big ‘O’ pipe, hard pipe lengths and connectors provided what we needed to rapidly move forward with the dewatering challenge. Jack Cewe Ltd. provided a discount on the gravel and boulders. Also key was the donation of a collection of water pumps and hoses borrowed from Noons Creek Hatchery, Thistle Plumbing, DFO, and Justin Hokanson . The dewatering of the creek section was indeed a challenge. Despite the low flow situation in other Lower Mainland creeks, Mossom has maintained a very healthy amount of cold water thanks to ground seeps just above the hatchery.
Finally the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society 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 Mossom Creek Watershed Habitat and Stewardship Project. Without such support, this project would not have been possible.
And now the salmon are back. Check out the Mossom Creek Facebook site to see for yourself!