December 14, 2016
Chum salmon in the ground water spawning channel in the McNab Valley
Photos courtesy of John Buchanan
On December 7th, the BC Environmental Assessment Office granted BURNCO Rock Products a time-out in order for the company to respond to all the comments posed by the public and Working Group committee related to the Environmental Assessment documentation. The 180 review period was to end January 28, 2017.
November 4, 2016, citizen scientist John Buchanan conducted his annual investigation of salmon returning to spawn at McNab in the ground water spawning channel BURNCO Rock Products would be displacing for its gravel mine. John’s video captured good returns of Chum and presence of Coho in the upper area of the ground water spawning channel Golder & Associates reported as “low value Chum Salmon spawning habitat”. This information was found to be helpful by Fisheries and Oceans Canada who are conducting a technical assessment. Golder’s consultants returned to the site and have confirmed the findings.
The ground water spawning channel was built as compensation by the previous owner of the land, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited. Department of Fisheries and Oceans had issued an Authorization for annual maintenance dredging in Rainy River, a few kilometers away in Port Mellon. The Fisheries Act Authorization required a 6 year monitoring program (from 2002 to 2007) of the compensatory works at McNab. Following the conclusion of this monitoring program, it was DFO’s opinion that the compensatory habitat was functioning as intended and that it was self-sustaining. Since 2007, DFO has not required subsequent owners of the land to maintain the channel in order for it to continue functioning as intended.
As part of Fisheries and Oceans technical review of BURNCO’s proposed gravel mine project, DFO is considering the characterization and extent of impacts to fish and fish habitat that would result from the proposed project. Findings are expected to be made public by mid 2017.