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We need your help! Support emergency salmon projects todayBy Pacific Salmon Foundation,
Mild winter, dry summer
It's no secret that the hot, dry summer we're experiencing is posing a challenge to our returning salmon. That's why we're asking for additional support in anticipation of emergency funding requests due to the challenging weather conditions. It only takes a minute. By texting SALMON to 45678 you can make a $10 tax-deductible donation that is added to your phone bill. For larger donations, simply go to psf.ca and click 'donate now.'
You've probably heard that the Government of B.C. is suspending angling in streams and rivers throughout most of the South Coast, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced tidal fishing closures in various locations on Vancouver Island in response to an unprecedented Level 4 drought rating, the highest ranking on the drought monitor scale. But, that's not the entire story. Since January, streamkeepers have been vigilantly monitoring stream levels in response to the mild winter which caused snowpacks to melt rapidly and prematurely. Environment BC estimates that our snow packs across the province currently range from 0% to 20% of normal levels, with the provincial average sitting at 5%.
What does this mean for salmon? It means that streams don't have the groundwater they need to keep stream levels high enough to support returning salmon. Because when snow melts too rapidly it doesn't have time to seep below the surface and become groundwater. Groundwater releases the slow consistent flows that salmon streams thrive on. Early melting of snow that coincides with rain events can also result in storm water surges that send trees, sediment and debris barrelling through the system. The result can be plugged up hatchery water intakes, blocked fish passage – and in the case of the Stave Valley Salmonid Enhancement Society – a pulverized fish ladder. Fortunately the Foundation was able to provide an emergency grant of $2,600 to the society to repair the fish ladder in time for their returning fish.
Call it a perfect storm as low snow pack conditions have been exacerbated by a hot, dry summer, leading to warmer than usual water temperatures and lower than usual water levels. Because it's a two-pronged situation, hoping for rainfall simply isn't enough. But the news isn't all dire.
The good news
Fortunately the Pacific Salmon Foundation has been providing funds to about 35,000 community streamkeepers across the province for the last 28 years. Streamkeepers volunteer in local watersheds year-round, monitoring conditions and doing the heavy-lifting for Pacific salmon conservation. And streamkeepers are very resourceful. On average, they raise an additional $6 for every dollar granted by the Foundation through donations of in-kind and cash from the community. A Foundation grant is a stamp of credibility that enables grantees to raise additional support for projects. By leveraging community networks for necessary, but expensive equipment like donated excavators, dump trucks and staff to operate them, your donation is maximized.
This spring, the Foundation provide $1.24 million in grant funding to 118 community salmon projects in 70 communities. Including leveraging from the community, the total value of those projects was actually $13.2 million. But with $3 million in grant requests, approximately half of project applications went unfunded. We anticipate that unmet need to grow.
How your support will help
The convergence of challenging winter and summer conditions have resulted in unforeseen circumstances for salmon and the need for emergency project funding. The mitigation work needs to occur now while the fisheries window is open so that in-stream activities won't interfere with returning fish. With your help we can provide the funds needed to help the next generation of salmon leave their streams. These are some of the ways your donation will be used:
- To ensure community hatcheries are fully stocked with eggs in case future storm events wipe out eggs and small fry already in streams;
- To help transport stranded fish to spawning grounds;
- To install back-up water intakes in hatcheries in case primary intake systems become plugged from stray debris;
- To support debris removal projects that help clear intake water systems, fish passage and spawning habitat;
- To dig deeper wells to better access groundwater for streams that rely on wells (groundwater is key for keeping streams wet even in dry summer months);
- To repair water intakes, fish ladders and off-channel habitat damaged by rushing debris
- To build deep off-channel habitat with access to groundwater to shelter fish when streams are low, with riparian planting beside habitat to keep water cool.
Thanks to the support of the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund Society, the majority of our overhead expenses are covered. That means that 90% of your donation goes directly into salmon projects. To make an online donation through our secure third-party portal at Canadahelps click here or text SALMON to 45678.