Salmon enhancement group eyes Fulford Creek area

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The Salt Spring Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society wants to purchase the land once occupied by the Fulford Inn to be used as an interpretive centre and park.

The Fulford Creek estuary is a highly sensitive watershed and fish habitat with a long history of being a major resource for First Nations on the island.

Though the project is still in the planning stage, the group hopes to acquire the land through fundraising and public assistance. There are no publicly owned lands along the Fulford Creek, and turning the estuary into public land will greatly enhance the fish population and serve the community.

“As far as Salt Spring Island goes, this is our most important river,” said Chris Acheson, president of the society. “It needs a little help.”

Fulford Creek is the largest fish-bearing stream in the southern Gulf Islands. Having a permanent educational facility on the site will greatly benefit regional fish stocks and provide educational opportunities for children, tourists and the public about the importance of maintaining Gulf Islands waterways and fisheries.

The creek is one of 14 sensitive streams in the province. A “sensitive stream,” according to the B.C. government, is one where special protections are needed for fish populations. Kathy Reimer, the society’s professional biologist, explained that the stream is sensitive due to its water shortage issues combined with its native fish population.

If the group were to acquire the land, the priority would be on repairing the ecosystem and stabilizing the coho salmon population. Besides that, the group hopes to turn to the community.

“We would want it to be a community effort, not just one single group,” said Reimer. “We’re eager to spearhead it because the benefits to our program would be so great.”

For more on this story, see the Dec.  20, 2017 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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