News

Meadow Creek spawning channel open house September 11

NELSON — Are you fascinated by fish? Don't miss a great chance to see thousands upon thousands of deep red kokanee gathered together at the spawning channel near Meadow Creek at the north end of Kootenay Lake.

On Sunday, September 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) – a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., and Fisheries and Oceans Canada – is holding an open house at Meadow Creek.

While the spawning channel is open to the public for the duration of the spawning season (unless there is unusually high bear activity), the open house provides an opportunity for the public to pose questions to a biologist about the kokanee and the Nutrient Restoration Program of Kootenay Lake.

FWCP works on behalf of its partners to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the creation of BC Hydro owned and operated generation facilities. The spawning channel is jointly funded and managed by the FWCP and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO).

Each year between three and five hundred thousand kokanee make their way into the Duncan River at the top end of Kootenay Lake and then “home” into Meadow Creek spawning channel.

“A large part of the channel’s success is due to the relatively high and consistent egg-to-fry survival rates,” says FLNRO’s senior fisheries biologist Jeff Burrows. “In natural streams the egg-to-fry survival rate is usually less than 15%, but due to careful monitoring and management of water flows and spawning gravel condition, the survival rate in this channel is usually just under 50%."

That means that for every 100 eggs deposited in the fall, nearly 50 fry exit the channel the following spring. The channel usually receives more than 40 million eggs each year.

The 3.3 km looping spawning channel was the largest of its kind in the world when it was built in 1967, with BC Hydro funds, compensating for upstream spawning habitat lost due to the construction of Duncan Dam. To this day the channel continues to play a very important role for kokanee; it accounts for about 75% of total kokanee fry production in Kootenay Lake.

About the Nutrient Restoration Program

“Since 1992 the FWCP and the Province of B.C. have been adding nutrients to Kootenay Lake and it is widely viewed as one of the most successful large-lake restoration projects in the world,” says FWCP public representative Grant Trower. “It helps the kokanee, which is considered a keystone species and important prey for predator fish; the Gerrard rainbow and bull trout thrive here because of the bountiful kokanee.”

The spawning channel is located approximately 4 km northwest of Meadow Creek off Highway 31.

For more information on the Open House visit fwcp.ca or call 250 352 6874.