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Sensitive fish habitat near Chilliwack, B.C. now off-limits to people who want to 4×4

Click to play video: 'Sensitive fish habitat near Chilliwack now off limits to people who want to 4×4 in area'
Sensitive fish habitat near Chilliwack now off limits to people who want to 4×4 in area
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has finally listened to biologists calling for the protection of an extremely sensitive fish habitat near Chilliwack that was being run over, but not everyone is happy about the solution – Aug 25, 2022

B.C. biologists have been calling on the provincial government for over a year to address a sensitive fish habitat near Chilliwack, which they say was being literally run over.

The Fraser River’s Gill Bar was once a haven for off-road enthusiasts, but now the government has taken steps to preserve the area.

A massive concrete barrier has been placed at an entrance to the area.

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“This is an amazing piece of ecosystem. There’s fish, salmon, sturgeon rearing and spawning,” said Marvin Rosenau, a BCIT fisheries biologist.

For months, conservationists had been calling on someone to step in and this summer the Department of Fisheries and Oceans finally lowered the boom.

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“The temporary closure is there to protect fish and fish habitat until we can come up with that longer-term plan to manage and protect the area,” said Mike Fraser, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesperson.

The shutdown of access to the area for off-road vehicles is not popular with everyone, as sensitive fish signage in the area has been defaced, sporting a “freedom” tagline.

Read more: B.C. salmon, shellfish may soon become luxury of the rich, experts warn

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The Four Wheel Drive Association of B.C. is hoping that through education a workaround can be found and access can be restored.

“We believe that if we can minimize the activity to just designated water crossings, the vast majority of this problem is eliminated,” said Kim Reeves, the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC’s president.

The closure comes in a summer that’s brought more disappointing news about salmon.

Test fisheries are predicting much-diminished numbers for Fraser River sockeye, which hoped many salmon would return in big enough numbers to allow both a commercial and a sport fishery.

Click to play video: 'Late summer sockeye salmon returns weaker than projected in Fraser'
Late summer sockeye salmon returns weaker than projected in Fraser

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