Screenshot from a video posted in early 2021 showing repeated crossings of side channels by trucks on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. (Facebook)

Screenshot from a video posted in early 2021 showing repeated crossings of side channels by trucks on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. (Facebook)

Organizer of convoy that damaged Fraser River fish habitat served warning letter

Truck crossings ‘disrupted 1,000 square metres’ of aquatic habitat on Fraser at Chilliwack, DFO says

Organizers of a truck convoy that churned through fish habitat on the Fraser River near Chilliwack were served with a warning letter by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

No charges will be forthcoming for water crossings through side channels at Gill bar, said fishery officer Bijan Sametz-Asgari, from DFO’s Fraser East conservation and protection office.

“The reason why they are receiving a warning, rather than any charges, is because they are not the only ones doing this activity at Gill, and they had no prior violations,” he said.

Gill bar, the Fraser gravel bar near Gill Road, has a long history of use by different user groups, from campers, to off-roads, fishers, and agate seekers.

Organizers of the truck event were co-operative throughout the investigation, the officer added, and have been actively advocating for protecting fish and fish habitat across North America since the video became a cause of concern a few months ago.

After the video was posted to Facebook showing trucks splashing through the waterways to a catchy soundtrack, it drew criticism from fish advocates, conservationists, and the leader of four-wheeling group.

RELATED: Convoy of trucks churned through fish habitat

As part of the investigation, Sametz-Asgari requested a review of the crossing impacts be conducted by a DFO habitat biologist.

The site at Gill bar was inspected and water crossing activity by the trucks was determined to have “disrupted 1,000 square metres of aquatic habitat,” reported the fishery officer. That was contrary to Section 35 (1) of the Fisheries Act, which states that “no person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction” of fish or aquatic habitat.

“DFO is committed to working with the Province of B.C., First Nations and City of Chilliwack to come up with a plan to mitigate the impacts of use in that area,” said Sametz-Asgari. “Many jurisdictions overlap in that location so we’re committed to working with all agencies, stakeholders and rights’ users.”

The fishery officer noted that DFO does not have the authority to lock the gates at Gill bar.

“But we do support a temporary gate closure to protect fish habitat until a more comprehensive plan for the area is developed,” Sametz-Asgari said.

Planning for the future of Gill bar, as a park, has been ongoing quietly for a few years at a table that included the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC (4WDABC), the Fraser Valley Illegal Dumping Alliance, as well as City of Chilliwack, provincial Conservation Officer Service (COS), the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and DFO representatives.

RELATED: Signage goes up; signage gets torn down

RELATED: Salmon group calls for moratorium on access to side channels

p> Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

DFOFraser River

Just Posted

Andrew and Eddie, seen here on Thursday, May 13, 2021, are two rabbits who are up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Andrew and Eddie at the Chilliwack SPCA

These two rabbits were living in poor conditions when the SPCA rescued them

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

The Chilliwack Fire Department responded to a fully engulfed travel trailer fire around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Chris Gadsden)
UPDATE w/PHOTOS: Early-morning fire destroys trailer in Chilliwack

Chilliwack Fire Department called to Sinclair Road where travel trailer fire spread to house

Jamie and Erin O’Neill, who are renting a 107-year-old house at 45837 Knight Rd., are wanting to save it from the wrecking ball and move it when it comes time for the owners of the house to build a new house on the property. They are pictured here outside the home on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack couple wants to save 107-year-old home from demolition, asking for community support

O’Neills have less than year to find new property, raise funds to move Knight Road house

Karl Eha showing off a fishing rod that was originally made in 1972. Patrick Penner photo.
Mission’s Eha Sports offering store credit for old fishing gear, plans to donate to poor Latin American children

Karl Eha recalls time as hungry kid in post-war Germany, says fishing kept him full

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read