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Special thank you to Groupe Ocean and Pacific Angler for their generous support:
As part of the flood recovery efforts to help repair important salmon habitat, we’ve provided funds to support the restoration of the Eaton Beaton side channel near Merritt, B.C., where 1.5 km of Coldwater River off-channel habitat has been damaged and blocked. The Coldwater River is one of the most important systems in the Nicola River watershed for coho and early-run Chinook, and is the most important system for steelhead.
This is one example of the need for habitat restoration after the extreme flooding in November 2021. With your help, we can save thousands of salmon and rebuild valuable habitats ready to face future challenges.
(photo courtesy of DFO)
From June 25 to July 1, 2021, British Columbia baked under temperatures reaching 49.6 C. The unprecedented heat dome resulted in B.C. streams getting warmer, detrimental to cold-blooded salmon.
However, researcher Kate O’Neill found a silver lining. The extreme heat created a greater differential between ambient stream temperatures and the cooler pools within them, fed by upwelling groundwater. The heat of 2021 made these cool refuge areas more obvious — and necessary for salmon.
Despite the positive identification of cool pools, the number of salmon using them appeared to decline over the hot summer period of 2021, which may suggest fish are more prone to predation when clustered in high numbers. Her ultimate goal is to support the mapping of thermal refugia within all salmon-bearing streams in B.C.
“By identifying these thermal refugia, we can help protect specific areas and really focus our efforts on climate mitigation,” says O’Neill, whose study was partially funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
One would think salmon are safe in the water during fires. Think again.
Wildfires cause major changes to forests and soils, which leads to shifts in watersheds that have serious consequences for salmon and their habitat. Once excess sediment from burned terrain reaches a stream, it can plug salmon gills and prevent them from accessing food, essentially suffocating and starving to death.
To help mitigate the effects on salmon, we’re developing a Forest Fire Playbook that includes landscape strategy options during the wildfire season to ensure salmon ecosystems can rebound. It also includes how to mitigate effects and accelerate recovery, and proactive measures to support salmon populations.
“These fires are massive. When they burn, entire watersheds fall apart. The efforts put into salmon recovery become swamped by the effects of these large wildfires that can affect salmon for years — even decades,” says Jason Hwang, PSF’s VP for Salmon.
With the help of donors, we can repair and strengthen the most fertile salmon spawning habitat in the world. With your support, we will continue working with First Nations and ENGO partners to mitigate the immediate effects of the 2021 floods on salmon and develop necessary climate adaptation and recovery strategies.
Critical areas of work that urgently need your support to help salmon survive through climate-change induced, extreme weather events: