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Crews in B.C. helping salmon navigate Fraser River landslide

Boats tow a fish wheel into place near the Big Bar landslide in the Fraser River on Aug. 2, 2019.
Boats tow a fish wheel into place near the Big Bar landslide in the Fraser River on Aug. 2, 2019. Province of British Columbia

More solutions are being found to get thousands of salmon past a landslide in the Fraser River, provincial and federal officials said this week, adding they’re starting to see positive results.

An update posted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the B.C. government Saturday said crews are making “encouraging progress” in building a natural fish passage on the river’s edge after blasting more rock on Thursday.

WATCH: (July 31, 2019) Update on efforts to move returning salmon past Fraser River rockslide

Update on efforts to move returning salmon past Fraser River rockslide
Update on efforts to move returning salmon past Fraser River rockslide

The rocks came down in late June in a section of the river north of Big Bar, creating a five-metre waterfall that has blocked the salmon from swimming upstream to spawn.

The blast created enough material to move boulders in place to create the salmon passage. Another controlled blast was expected to take place Sunday to create more material.

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READ MORE: Officials may soon install salmon ladders to help fish blocked by B.C. landslide

As of Sunday, officials say roughly 4,000 sockeye and chinook salmon have been transported upstream by crews. No fish have been able to make it through the rapids on their own as of yet.

A variety of methods are being used to transport the salmon past the slide, including using helicopters carrying oxygenated tanks filled in nearby staging ponds.

A fish ladder and fish wheel have also been deployed, the latter of which was successfully tested Friday.

WATCH: (July 9, 2019) Fisheries minister updates salmon situation at Fraser River rockslide

Fisheries minister updates salmon situation at Fraser River rockslide
Fisheries minister updates salmon situation at Fraser River rockslide

The fish wheel was brought in by the Kitsumkalum Band, one of several local First Nations assisting the province and the DFO with the operation.

An update posted Friday said the fish wheel would be fully operational by Saturday, but officials have since pushed that date to “the near future.”

Crews are continuing to work on scaling the rock above the slide to prevent future incidents.

READ MORE: B.C. to use helicopters to transfer salmon past Fraser River rock slide

There is no timeline yet on what the province called last week “dangerous and difficult” work.

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The overall water temperature in the Fraser “has been trending downward,” the province said, which is beneficial to the health of the fish.

The provincial and federal governments made a joint commitment recently to do everything possible to make sure the millions of salmon are able to reach their spawning grounds.

—With files from Richard Zussman and the Canadian Press