British Columbia

Salmon can now be transported around Fraser River landslide by truck, officials say

The B.C. government says salmon stuck at a massive landslide on the Fraser River north of Lilooet can now be transported upstream by truck, as crews conducted a successful trial run on Sunday.

Successful trial run took place on Sunday

Michael Crowe, centre, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and two members of the B.C. Wildfire Service place a salmon in a vessel being used to transport the fish up the Fraser River with a helicopter, past a massive rock slide near Big Bar, west of Clinton, B.C., on July 24. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The B.C. government says salmon stuck at a massive landslide on the Fraser River north of Lillooet can now be transported upstream by truck, after crews conducted a successful trial run on Sunday.

The province says rock scalers have also moved two large boulders as part of ongoing efforts to create a natural passage for fish to swim past the slide on their way to spawning grounds.

To date, an estimated 28,780 salmon have passed the slide on their own, while nearly 57,000 have been transported by helicopter.

The province says water levels continue to drop, making it easier for fish to move upstream while improving conditions for crews working at the slide.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the B.C. government and local First Nations have been working together since June trying to ensure hundreds of thousands of salmon have a chance to spawn.

Video taken from a helicopter in July 2019 shows the extent of damage from the landslide:

Video taken from a helicopter shows the extent of damage from a landslide near Big Bar, just north of Lillooet, B.C. 2:28

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has called the landslide a "crisis situation'' and said 2019 has been an especially difficult year for wild Pacific salmon, while pointing to climate change as the main driving factor in what has been a decades-long decline in stocks.

In one of the most dramatic shifts, Wilkinson's department adjusted the number of returning Fraser River sockeye expected this year to a little more than 600,000, down from an earlier projection of nearly five million.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials and members of the B.C. Wildfire Service move salmon in a temporary holding pen on the Fraser River before being transported with a helicopter past the rock slide. The slide has narrowed the river, creating a five-metre waterfall that is preventing many migrating salmon from getting through to spawning grounds. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

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