Habitat and lab repairs part of federal funding

Federal funds were flowing near Cultus Lake Wednesday with a focus of habitat restoration for recreational fisheries.

Fresh water intake at the Cultus Lake Salmon Research Lab.

Fresh water intake at the Cultus Lake Salmon Research Lab.

Federal funds were flowing near Cultus Lake Wednesday with a focus of habitat restoration for recreational fisheries, and improvements to the Cultus Lake Salmon Research Lab.

MPs Mark Strahl and Randy Kamp were on-hand to deliver the announcements on behalf of federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

Up to $375,000 is coming down the pipe for facility repairs and improvements at the Cultus Lake Salmon Research Lab in Chilliwack.

They’ll be upgrading the freshwater water intake system at the DFO salmon research lab, said Jeffrey Lemieux, section head for freshwater ecosystems for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The freshwater supply comes from Cultus Lake and is used to control water temperature and flow, when they set up the artificial stream for example to simulate real-life conditions for salmon.

“It’s a very old system made of wood,” said Lemieux. “We keep it going, but it’s on life support.”

There’s an underground section of the in-lake supply across the road from the lab where most of the system overhaul will be conducted.

There was also a habitat restoration component to the funding announcements, with the funds geared to fostering recreational fisheries to make sure they “survive and thrive,” said Strahl.

“As we were driving across the old Vedder Bridge, which we will be replacing, we saw that even on a hot day there are people out enjoying recreational fisheries,” said Strahl. “It’s a key part of Chilliwack’s tourism economy and it’s one I am pleased to support as a part of our government.”

Freshwater fisheries contribute $8 billion a year to the Canadian economy.

“Our Government understands the importance of balancing the economic spinoffs of this industry with ongoing and concerted conservation efforts. By working with our partners at the local level, we’re ensuring the sustainability of recreational fishing for this and future generations,” said Randy Kamp, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Member of Parliament for Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge – Mission

Through the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (RFCPP), the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition will receive up to $313,330 towards restoring salmon habitat in the Vedder River Floodplain (Browne Creek, Stewart Creek and Trestle Channel) and the Stave River Watershed.

Strahl praised the work of FVWC, adding they’ve been funded at every round because of the great work they do.

“If you haven’t seen the improvements they’ve made at Browne Creek, I urge you to do so. They are stunning.”

Salmon habitat restoration work in the Vedder River Floodplain, which will total $177,000 is part of a multi-year, multi-phase project that will restore and enhance 3,000 m2 of rearing habitat and 4,000 m2 of riparian habitat in the floodplain.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation will receive up to $61,400 to restore a fish passage on the Bench Forest Service Road by replacing a culvert that has blocked fish passage near the Chilliwack River confluence.