British Columbia

Rock scalers making 'considerable progress' clearing area above Fraser River rock slide

Rock scalers are making "considerable progress" releasing large sections of rock that are blocking a narrow part of the Fraser River, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Rock scalers removed about 20 dump trucks worth of material, according to the province

A graphic provided by the ministry shows the magnitude of the rockslide. The image on the left shows the rock face in the fall of 2017. The image on the right shows the cliff height and the area of the cliff face that is now blocking the river. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Rock scalers are making "considerable progress" stabilizing the area above a rock slide that is blocking a narrow part of the Fraser River, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The slide, which happened in a remote area west of Clinton — about 100 kilometres northwest of Kamloops — has created a five-metre waterfall. It has been blocking salmon from migrating upstream and spawning since late June, grabbing the attention of provincial and federal politicians.

According to a written statement from the ministry, rock scalers removed about 20 dump trucks worth of material from the rock face between July 4 and July 11.

The workers rappel from the top of the slope to the base, removing loose rocks as they descend using a pry bar. They're also assisted by helicopters that drop water to wash away loose debris.

On larger rocks, rubberized air bags are placed between rock joints and inflated with compressed air to dislodge unstable rock.

The goal of the operation is to stabilize the rock directly above the river bank where the slide occurred.

Rock scalers rappel from the top of the slope to the base, removing loose rocks as they descend using a pry bar. (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development)

Federal and provincial officials say they're considering options such as transporting salmon upstream using trucks or helicopters.

However, the ministry said in their Tuesday statement that "further actions will not be taken until rock stability is confirmed and the river bank below is deemed operable."

The Fraser River is the most important salmon-bearing river in B.C.

Chinook salmon are considered endangered, and have already been the subject of a number of federal government protection plans because of their dwindling numbers.

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