Salmon study completed

Sinclair Creek in Radium Hot Springs used to see kokanee salmon swimming upstream during spawning season each year. In 2001 over 11,000 kokanee spawners were recorded in the three kilometre stretch of water from the Columbia River to Sinclair Falls. Since then, no salmon have been recorded due to impediments downstream.

In 2002 investigations showed that fish passage was blocked by a number of beaver dams. The Village of Radium Hot Springs hired Gerry Naito of Naito Environmental of Vernon to conduct a study in August 2006 to determine the feasibility of restoring passage of the kokanee salmon into Sinclair Creek.

The main channel of the creek was diverted by a dam in 2002, causing the creek to form a new path. Naito found there were several small and porous dams that would allow fish to pass through, however upstream there was a larger dam that would impede passage.

From 2001-2003 the village conducted habitat enhancement and restoration work along Sinclair Creek. This included creating a variety of habitats, which now support bull trout and eastern brook trout.

Naito’s study raised questions on how to reestablish a passage for the kokanee salmon. To restore fish passage to the former main channel that no longer supports water flow since the dam diverted the path in 2002, four dry dams on the path would possibly need to be removed. Also, the existing dam that caused the diversion would need to be addressed. Naito suggested manually making an opening in the dam each year prior to passage (usually from late August - early October).

According to Naito this will allow fish to pass without causing fish stranding or habitat loss that would occur if the dam were completely removed.

Naito recommended that the creek is inspected annually before peak spawning season to look for fish passage barriers and to breach barriers by hand to allow for passage. He also suggested that the village investigate whether the local school district may want to participate in the Kokanee in the Classroom Program.

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